8 Change Management Lessons from Spinnaker’s Growth Preparation Initiatives

Spinnaker recently turned the tables and led our own internal change management project, unleashing a series of positive changes to position Spinnaker for continued growth. Rather than our usual focus on client work, we shifted gears and leveraged our team’s deep experience and knowledge to prepare Spinnaker to operate successfully at the next level. Here’s a peek behind the curtain at our own change management experience and the 8 change management lessons we have to share:

Our Change Management Challenge

We identified “paving the way for Spinnaker’s continued growth” as a key component of our strategic imperatives for FY2019. We were still organized like a start-up, and were not fully leveraging the broad knowledge base of dozens of experienced professionals to help us with our own process and infrastructure development. In order to grow substantially beyond our existing team of 35 people, we needed to make some meaningful changes to how Spinnaker operated. Once tactics were identified, we knew effective change management would be critical to successful execution and adoption, as it is with all change that impacts employees and processes.

Our Approach

Agreeing On Priorities: We set our 2019 organizational imperatives in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Defining Objectives: We spent January and February aligning on what we intended to achieve as an outcome of the effort, documenting our conditions of satisfaction, and developing a thoughtful change plan.

Implementation: We implemented the plan over the next 5 months. Throughout the effort, our Senior Leadership Team was intentional in seeking input and ideas from the entire organization about how Spinnaker could continue to advance its growth initiatives. We knew we would need expert leadership and guidance in the areas we identified for change, including hiring, compensation, and Spinnaker’s leadership structure. Therefore, we engaged a Human Resources consultant to bring in her extensive knowledge of HR-related considerations and also provide dedicated focus on several of our efforts.

The Outcome

As we wrap up our first major organizational project, we are confident we have achieved cultural change, reinforcing Spinnaker’s growth mindset and bringing our collaborative environment into sharper focus. For us, it wasn’t about overhauling our culture, but rather building on its strengths and transitioning it to the next phase.

The changes we identified impacted almost everything we do as an organization, from people and process to systems and strategy. More specifically, we expanded Spinnaker’s leadership group, developed a framework to identify the right people to join our team of experts, and enabled a clear sense of ownership by every Spinnaker team member about our collective goals and their role in contributing to them.

Our 8 Change Management Lessons

  1. TEAM ENGAGEMENT: Engaging our entire team to ensure their voices were heard throughout all phases of the process was a key factor in our success. A 2017 survey by Forbes indicates this engagement process isn’t unique to Spinnaker. The survey found that 98 percent of respondents believe a leader’s decision-making process should include input from the people impacted by the decision.
  2. DUE DILIGENCE: Due diligence was essential and paid off in spades because we invested the time upfront. We spent months researching concepts, talking to experts, querying colleagues who have gone through similar changes, and understanding the complexities of potential change before we put the wheels in motion.
  3. TRUST: From the beginning, we asked our team to assume positive intent and promised to keep the door open to receiving, and incorporating, their constructive feedback. With this approach, grounded in the highly valued trust among our team, we were able to work through challenges as they arose and significantly reduce issues throughout the process.
  4. COMMUNICATION: When it comes to managing change, there’s no such thing as too much communication! We used a combination of email, focus groups, one-on-ones, and organizational meetings to seek input and share updates. Considering our team is both local and geographically dispersed, we will continue to identify additional ways for effective, meaningful communication in the future. We’ll be exploring ways that allow us to connect through more interactive message media, while remaining sensitive to the fact that people have different learning styles and are located in different time zones.
  5. EXECUTION: Even with all of the preparation, when we look back, we realize we could have done more to think through execution before we committed to tactics. In some cases our plans evolved through the execution process and the end result didn’t look quite as we had originally expected. In the future we’ll allow ourselves more flexibility for plans to evolve — and even to allow priorities to shift — and communicate with our team accordingly.
  6. PLANNING: We oversimplified how changes would impact some future scenarios, which caused additional challenges. The more emphasis we can put on planning for potential outcomes, the better. But, importantly, done is better than perfect.
  7. TESTING: In places where it was possible, we rolled out changes to a test group first to identify gaps and improve our rollout communication across the organization. In fact, this helped us adjust details of the change itself, as well as communication, and avoid potential pitfalls in both.
  8. PREPARATION: We created a comprehensive series of “what ifs” to guide us with prepared responses to situations and questions that arose as we executed on our changes. We relied on many, as it turned out. The time we invested in this process was well spent, not only in saving us time during a critical phase of our implementation, but also in helping ensure our messages to the organization from different leaders were consistent.

The Result

We’re excited to say Spinnaker is well-positioned for our next phase of growth! We have an engaged team, all working as one, as we begin this important stage in our journey. Looking back, we are absolutely convinced the significant investment of our leadership team’s energy, knowledge, and resources toward being deliberate about Spinnaker’s growth has paid off, and it will continue to pay dividends into the future. We took a thorough and thoughtful approach, emphasized communication and collaboration, and achieved what we set out to accomplish — creating a culture, a company, and a team prepared for and focused on the future.

At Spinnaker, we’re not just about short-term wins, we’re about driving sustainable results for lasting impact. We can help your team and your company get to the next level. To learn more about how our Spinnaker team of experts can help you discover what’s next and continue to advance your business, contact us today.

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