Capacity For Change: When Do You Know the Time Is Right?

I was meeting with a client today to discuss the status of a project that relied on the readiness or capacity of the client and their partners.  My presentation included:

  • The resources that existed and did not exist
  • The costs for these resources
  • The competing priorities facing the partners and
  • My assessment of the readiness for change, connected to a recent dialogue about one of the competing priorities.

As it were, the client had very similar ideas and added other factors to the equation.  The client was experiencing turnover in staff and just trying to address the day-to-day operations.  The timing to make and follow through on a plan for change was not good because their human resources were limited.  They wanted to make sure they could fulfill the needs of daily operations and equally important to them was to take care of themselves.

There are many tools available to assess readiness or capacity within a unit or program, organization, or system. Check out the Marguerite Casey Foundation Organizational Capacity Assessment Tool that covers some of the essential components needed for change.  In a Forbes article by Dov Seidman, How Human Is Your Company, the case is made for why corporate humanity is important and that “assessing our company’s humanity also tells us about our company’s capacity for performance”.

Some assessments of capacity are better than others.  It is important to take stock in how people feel in their current situation and the stress that may contribute to the organization’s capacity to perform and make a change.  Dialogue and discussion with individuals and teams can add context to the assessment results.  I refer to this as checking on the gut factor.

Peter F. Drucker, management guru

Peter F. Drucker, management guru

My gut was telling me the project was not going anywhere.  It was more important to me to check in on what the client was feeling about the project and their own capacity before attempting to move it forward even if this meant I could not bill for the project.  It is not worth it to go through the motions and end up with nothing substantive for the client in the end.  Peter Drucker who was quoted in the Seidman article said, “There is a difference between doing the next thing right, and doing the next right thing.”

The client and I decided to opt out of the project.