Organizational Readiness for Change

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Technical assistance is ultimately about changing an organization by improving their performance. Often the success of the TA provider will depend, in part, on how ready the beneficiary organization is for change and how well the TA provider can manage that change. The challenges a TA provider may encounter during an engagement can often be avoided by assessing the organization’s readiness for change prior to providing TA. The following chapter provides resources and tools to assist a TA provider in assessing readiness for change and managing change. Assessing readiness-for-change is a practice adapted from for-profit management consulting and the related disciplines of change management and organizational development. Why assess readiness for change? In short, your chances for success improve when you work with organizations that are ready and able to commit to change. As a TA provider, you have a greater return on your investment, and you’re less likely to invest time, energy, and resources in an unproductive TA engagement.

There are many ways to measure an organization’s ability to change.

An individual’s and organization’s ability to productively transition through change can be formally and informally measured in many ways. The tools included in this chapter and throughout the interactivities can be used at the beginning of a TA engagement as a stand-alone assessment of readiness-for-change, they can be woven into an existing organizational assessment process, or they can be used throughout a TA engagement to identify barriers and roadblocks of technical assistance. To embed a readiness-for-change assessment into the larger process, you will intersperse questions and observations related to indicators that prove an organization is ready for change.

There are several indicators of change readiness.

Below are several indicators of change readiness. Indicators of change readiness are organizational traits you can look for when reviewing an application, conducting a site visit, or interviewing a board or staff member. Not all of the indicators must be present in order for an organization to be ready for change, but several of them should be.

Mission/Vision/Values

  • The organization has clear values that define the way they interact with the community and within the organization.
  • The organization has a vision and mission statement that employees, board members, and all other organizational stakeholders are invested in.
  • There is a clear plan for growth in a strategic plan or other written document.

Investment of Leadership

  • The executive director, board of directors, and other leadership is committed and directly involved with the change.

Organizational Alignment

  • Leadership and staff recognize the need for change.
  • Leadership and staff mostly agree about what change is needed.
  • Leadership and staff are prepared to support the change.
  • There is cross-functional communication; leadership and direct service staff effectively communicate with each other.

Culture and Infrastructure of the Organization

  • The mood of the organization is optimistic and positive.
  • Conflict is dealt with openly, with a focus on resolution.
  • Innovation within the organization is rewarded, and taking risks is allowed.
  • Infrastructure is flexible and easily adapted to possible role changes in the future.
  • Leadership is aware of trends in the nonprofit sector, particularly new and emerging practices.

Past Experiences

  • The organization has had positive experiences with change in the past.
  • The organization is relatively comfortable with transitions.
Click to open interactivity The Change Readiness Self-Assessment is a useful tool when conducting an organizational assessment.

The Change Readiness Self-Assessment is a useful tool when conducting an organizational assessment.

Download this helpful Change Readiness Self-Assessment to assist you when conducting an organizational assessment and determine if an
organization is ready for change.

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