Better is Possible: How Change Really Happens
Last year’s Turkey Trot was a turning point for me. The Thanksgiving Day fun run tradition, intended as a lighthearted way to make room for dinner, had become an annual litmus test for my physical health. I’d always tell myself “if you can run the Turkey Trot, you’re doing alright.”
Well, I wasn’t doing alright. I had been sleeping poorly, struggling to stay focused throughout the day, and letting responsibilities fall by the wayside. I was irritable, unreliable, and out of shape. I technically made it across the finish line, but it was not pretty. I walked a lot of the way and everything hurt.
Something needed to change.
I had tried to make change before, always looking for the one big thing that would finally put me on the path to healthier living. The 40-day cleanse. Training for a half marathon. But you know the story: even if I’d reach those goals, things would slowly slip back to normal.
If things were going to be different, then I needed to take a different approach…
How Change Really Happens
Change is difficult. That’s true for individuals, and it’s especially true for organizations. It’s not enough for one person or one team to do things differently. Every part of your organization needs to work together in order to work better.
When we started Friday, our vision was to be a one-stop-shop for mission-driven organizations looking to change the way they worked so they could in turn change the world. Need a new strategic plan? We can help. Want to tell a better story about your work? Let’s update your brand! Looking to reimagine your programs? Sure, let’s get started!
Our clients often come to us ready to change the one thing they hope will change everything else.
But change doesn’t happen in a straight line or all at once. And it’s rarely a single BIG change, but a number of small changes stitched together. What would start off as a project to create a new communications plan quickly turned into a project to redesign a core service. Or what began as brand updates started to reveal gaps in organizational strategy. Or a small engagement to design a new funder pitch would evolve into a whole new fundraising strategy.
Our team has learned to not be surprised when the focus of a project shifts. We’ve come not just to expect it, but to welcome it as the essential nature of organizational change. Even as we set out to solve the most obvious problem, we’re on the lookout for the related challenges and opportunities hiding in plain sight.
In response to the inherent complexity of change, we’ve developed a simple framework we’re calling Integrated Impact. Our goal is to help our team and our clients understand and anticipate the ways in which change anywhere can affect the organization as a whole. Perhaps most importantly, it guides us in identifying – and if necessary reframing – the actual opportunities that will bring about the outcomes our clients are hoping for.
The 9 Factors of Integrated Impact
For each of our core disciplines – organizational strategy, brand & communications, and program design – we’ve identified the essential elements present in the most impactful organizations.
Effective teams ground their work in these nine factors. They have a clear vision, can articulate their goals, and have a detailed plan for how they are getting things done. They know their value proposition and can consistently communicate who they are and how they are making a difference. And their programs are rooted in a clear understanding of the problems they’re solving, insights from the people they serve, and a commitment to getting better all the time.
We use the Integrated Impact framework in a number of ways:
- Diagnostic: As we build relationships with prospective clients, it’s helpful to get a holistic understanding of how their organization is doing. We can get a sense of how well an organization has developed each factor in a short conversation.
- Roadmap: For organizations looking to make changes on a number of fronts, the framework gives us a way to think about how and when to address each element within the organization.
- Glossary: There are lots of tools and ideas about organizational change. We like and use many of them. But it can be challenging to know which to use and whether we’re talking about the same thing. These factors give us a common language as we think about the unique challenges facing each client.
Whether our clients are narrowly focused on a particular aspect of their organization or considering a more comprehensive transformation, the 9 Factors of Integrated impact is a useful tool for ensuring we’re addressing and uncovering their biggest opportunities for change.
My personal need for a change synced up nicely with our early insights about the interconnected nature of change. Equipped with a better way of thinking about building a healthier lifestyle, I started to think about the ways in which sleep, diet, exercise, screen time, and more were contributing to my wellbeing. Instead of big changes in every area, I made small commitments and trusted that consistent effort across multiple fronts would add up to meaningful change over time. In a couple of weeks, the change was apparent. Healthier eating led to better sleep which led to more energy for exercise which led to a desire to keep the positive momentum going. More important than any one particular change was the change in what I believed. Previously, change felt all but impossible. But with each passing day, I believed more and more that better was possible.
That’s become a bit of a mantra around Friday. Not because of my story, but because of the stories of so many of our courageous clients. We’re thankful to each of the leaders and teams who have trusted us with their organizations. When the problems seemed too daunting, or when the path forward was unclear, or when the vision was bigger than any one person’s capacity – you accepted the uncertain but exhilarating nature of change. You took the next step. You believed better is possible.
Our team is looking forward to helping even more mission-driven organizations fulfill their purpose and realize their potential. We’re continuing to build an incredible multidisciplinary team with diverse lived experiences who bring fresh perspectives to our clients. (Know any strategists looking for their next role?) And we’ve made a few changes to our own identity with an updated look and feel that celebrates the messy process of change.
If you or someone you know is ready to jump into the challenging-but-rewarding work of change, we’d love to connect. There’s no reason to wait. A better tomorrow starts today.