Want to Get Better at Organizational Development? Try Planning a Wedding

If you’re anything like me, you didn’t spend much time thinking about what your wedding would look like until you were actually engaged. I didn’t pass the time between classes by daydreaming about wedding dresses or drawing flower arrangements in the margins of my math homework. Maybe that’s why I wasn’t really prepared for all of the research and decision-making that goes in to planning a wedding. My fiancé and I have been on a steep learning curve throughout the process, and it hasn’t always been easy. I’d like to think we’ve been able to achieve most of our goals, and I’m genuinely excited to see how our plans turnout.

As I look back on the processes we used to plan our wedding, I was struck by how useful some of them would be in promoting organizational development. Here are three tips for achieving your organization’s strategic goals and improving its efficiency:

Establish and abide by budget boundaries

Making wedding plans before setting a budget is a recipe for disaster. It’s important to set your priorities and know how much you are willing and able to spend in each category to ensure that your priorities are realized. Similarly, before you start planning how you’re going to make organizational improvements, you need to know what resources are available. Will this effort be done entirely in-house, or can you hire outside help? Will everyone in the office participate, or are you going to have to focus on a few key individuals? Establish the scope of what’s possible by first determining how much you’re able to spend. Then you can decide which activities are the most important to achieving your goals and allocate resources accordingly. If your budget is tight, focus on acquiring resources that give you the most value. For example, it may be more expensive to hire a full-time consultant than a part-time one, but someone working full time can devote more energy and concentrate exclusively on your project.

Don’t feel beholden to lingering ideas of how things should be done

There are hundreds of websites, magazines, and television shows dedicated to telling you what traditions you “must” include in order to have the perfect wedding. It’s easy to be torn between wanting to include time-honored traditions while still wanting to maintain your own creativity and identity. Likewise, most organizations have established methodologies for undertaking all kinds of projects. There may be one-pagers and walk-throughs that outline how things need to be done, and it’s a good idea to reference these when you’re first starting out. Outside of legal guidance, however, don’t feel like you have to follow in the exact footsteps of previous efforts. This is your opportunity to shake things up a bit—after all, your organization needs a bit of change in order to get back on the right track. So why not use the opportunity to try something different? Adopt best practices from previous projects and then put your own spin on organizational development. Your new ideas may provide the necessary energy and direction to ensure success.

Be true to your vision

When planning a wedding, the temptation to get bogged down in the details is very strong, and you risk losing sight of the reason you’re planning the wedding in the first place. Just as the “end game” of planning a wedding is celebrating your marriage, at the end of the day any organizational development effort has to meet your office’s needs. Work with leadership and coworkers early on to develop a shared vision of success; then revisit it often to ensure that you’re staying on track. Other suggestions may arise during the process, so it’s important to have established goals to determine if and how new ideas may help achieve what you’ve set out to accomplish. Listen to what others have to say, but don’t feel obligated to incorporate their suggestions if it doesn’t fit with your vision of success. Organizational development is a big project to take on, so be sure to focus your limited time and energy on achieving the goals that you established in the beginning.

What processes have you used when working on organizational development?