As I look around our industry and read the language that other digital agencies use to describe themselves, many share a common theme: we are looking for clients that want to “partner for the long haul” or “build long-term partnerships”.  Here’s the thing about our statement – organizational change takes 2.5 – 3.5 years to complete the transition. Working with clients for this duration ensures we can effectively enable the chosen strategy and guide teams through the hard decisions and discussions to reach the desired future state.

Well, that is an interesting number Tony, got anything to back that up?

I’ve been fortunate in my career since graduate school to have worked both in agencies and in-house at non-profit organizations. Being in-house is where I came to understand that an organizational website redesign is never about a “design refresh” and developing outreach performance metrics or contact management practices is never just about better housekeeping for data. These seemingly one-off, isolated projects are about transformation and shifting the organizational culture. Think about the last time your organization redesigned your website or brought in a new CRM: Was it a simple process of requirements evaluation, system selection, training and voila? Or, did it involve the creation of stakeholder groups? Did it suddenly slip out of one department’s purview and start to cross silos? Did it make anyone in the organization question the silos?

During these “project efforts” I was able to move between organizational silos and learn what each group prioritized. I worked to find common ground by looking for ways to develop new approaches to governance and process that recognized the challenges and concerns of each team. I would spend months working to develop buy-in from staff and leadership and then many more months providing updates, conducting listening tours and presenting in-progress work, all to ensure that the whole team was a part of making change work for the organization. In each instance, the time frame held steady at 2.5 – 3.5 years. The range is based on the starting point and executive commitment to facilitate change and make some hard choices around positioning, staff assignments, and budgets.

Technology is easy, people are hard…changing systems and tools is disruptive, it requires convincing people to change how they spend their days.

So, as you talk about new strategic initiatives and plan how they will be implemented are you looking for a firm that can build a tool or are you looking for experts that can help you architect an approach that guides the transformation of ensuring your staff understand why new initiatives are important and what’s in it for them, rather than trying to uncover what is being done to them?

If you’re feeling stuck or frustrated and not able to nudge your projects forward shoot me a note and let’s find a time to talk. 2.5 – 3.5 years sounds like a long time, but boy does it fly by when you’re moving your organization into a newer version of itself.