Segmenting Efforts

One of the keys to successfully executing large-scale change in public sector organizations is breaking down the effort into much smaller changes or efforts, the combination of which ultimately implements a larger scale change. Smaller changes help reduce complexity for the implementer as well as the organization, they're easier for people to adjust to, and their value is more easily justified.

Segmenting change is different from segmenting activity or breaking a plan into sub-tasks. Segmenting change focuses on identifying the right level of achievable progress towards a goal and moving forward with that change. Efforts may possess a combination of larger and smaller segments but each is based on identifying what is necessary and only necessary to feasibly move forward. For example, if an organization wanted to improve the efficiency of its fleet operations, the initial thought might be to simply identify ways to reduce costs by looking at the organization’s fleet requirements, analyzing some operational scenarios or performing a present value analysis on investments and then executing. However, the reality might be that the fleet itself is managed by seven regional centers all doing their own thing. Improvement will likely require standardization or even centralized management. The only truly feasible approach is to heavily segment the effort. Those segments themselves may need to be segmented again and again perhaps starting simply with an initial goal of getting the regional fleet managers together for the first time.

  Examples of segmenting different types of change into smaller, more manageable efforts.

Examples of segmenting different types of change into smaller, more manageable efforts.

In organizations highly resistant to change or ones in which significant cultural or political resistance exists, it may be necessary to continue to segment efforts into what might almost be described as micro-changes. The result is, as one might imagine, micro-progress at first, but as progress is made over time through a series of small changes, the effort starts to reach a point of critical mass, a point at which the change is unstoppable based on momentum.