Prioritize Your Change Capital Investment

by | Expansions, Leadership, Prioritization, Responding to Change

I’ll give you a quick example of how I saw this play out for an organization that I’ve been working with for the last year.

This is a data analytics firm, and they had been planning on doing a big organizational redesign. They were going to take their hundred employees and organize them into cross functional agile teams.

That change was going to be pretty significant.

It was going to change reporting structures and management relationships, and they had planned to roll that out in April of 2020.

They’ve been working on it, talking about it, everybody knew it was coming. But as we all know, in March of 2020, the reality of the pandemic started to unfold. The group of leaders got together, and I shared with them about the concept of change capital. In particular, I invited them to consider their priorities for spending their collective change capital.

The question for them to consider was, “Is going through with this HR change and this organizational redesign the right place to be spending your change capital right now as an organization?”

Suddenly the organization had competing priorities for their change capital spend: work from home; remote collaboration; stakeholder needs are changing; parents no longer have childcare. The list of competing demands for employees seemed to grow daily.

As individuals and as organizations, there’s a limit to how much of our change capital we can spend at any given time.

It’s renewable, but it’s limited.

They ultimately decided that no, it wasn’t the right time to change everybody’s manager and team. Doing so would overwhelm their capacity to respond to emerging priorities.

So they changed their priorities.

They changed how they wanted to spend their change capital, so that they could address the new priorities and be more responsive to whatever else was coming.

The organization was finally ready to prioritize the organizational redesign in September. The reality of unexpected change hadn’t gone away, but the speed of change was slowing down. They finally had the collective capacity to make organizational changes together.

Prioritizing how to spend your change capital is one of the most effective ways to respond to change without burning everyone out.

Take action now:

Share this article with your team. At your next team meeting, do a quick check-in to gauge how full everyone’s “change capital bucket” is at that moment in time.

  • Use a 0-5 scale.
    5=maxed and overflowing
    3=almost full
    0=relaxed and ready for anything

Do this check-in once a month. It’s a good gauge to understand the group’s collective capacity for working differently.