Becoming for Organizations

As organizations navigate the increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) contexts, arguing with this reality or waiting for it to “return to normal ” can be tempting. Rather, leaders must work with this new reality toward who they are becoming. Organizational becoming can be a powerful way to reimagine strategic planning. For organizations, becoming explores the past and the future as well as our collective vision and actions. The four components of becoming an organization include discovery, creation, leading, and learning.

Discovery

Often, organizations begin by looking back at who they were. They might explore their founding, mission, values, purpose, personnel, artifacts, stories, accomplishments, and those they have served. Without understanding where we have been, we cannot clearly see where we are going. Reflecting on our past can give us a solid foundation for envisioning the future.

Creation

Building on the discovery process’s foundation, we can invest in creating who we aspire to be moving forward. This might be a slight or radical departure from what the organization has been. It considers the full past and the realities of the present but focuses on creating a new future with agency. This might include a revised mission, vision, and values, a new purpose, an updated strategic plan, or even a new name.

Leading

With a new direction clarified and articulated in the creation process, we can move the toward aligning our actions. We have to be willing to reconsider patterns, processes, policies, and practices. Organizations are made up of humans, who often regress toward what they are familiar with—even if it does not serve them. We have to be willing to reconsider everything. That doesn’t mean we must change everything; we must be willing to rethink everything. This might include a new work plan aligned with new goals.

Learning

Leading new actions must be accompanied by learning whether these actions are working (or not) and whether they are leading toward our aspirations (or not). This learning process includes assessment in formal and informal ways. You might have robust data that a core action is not moving the needle with those you serve. You might also sense that this is not the most efficient operation method. Reflecting on our actions can help us foster a sense of continuous improvement toward our aspirations.

Ongoing Becoming

Where does your organization naturally default to focusing? Where might you need to be intentional about focusing your time, energy, and resources? Where do you, as a leader, tend to fall? Where does your team need your focus?

Since the VUCA contexts around us continue to evolve, so must our becoming. Think of becoming not as a linear four-step process to be completed by a cycle of ongoing processes to engage in your organization’s continual becoming, with each step informing and being informed by the others.

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