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This information is intended to convey the underlying concepts for Reclamation's decision processes. It is not mandatory.
See the Reclamation Manual for official Reclamation-wide requirements.

Reclamation's Decision Process Guide


go through page Change / Types of Change / Managing Change / Go On

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navigate in the page--Change

Carefully distinguish between watershed events and momentary fads (e.g., the fad for a knight's black armor vs the introduction of firearms).

Unless a project can be thought of, agreed upon, and finished in a second, then at some point something about your project will change. Being prepared for these changes throughout the process will help keep the process on track, avoid conflicts, and address the problems.

Don't assume that something is cast in concrete. Anything (purposes, objectives, schedules) can change at any moment- and often does. Keep your thumb on the pulse of the process so you can identify and define change

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navigate in the page--Types of Change

Potential changes include:

Don't get too discouraged. Changes can enhance rather than destroy what you have done so far.

Changes will occur where they do the most damage.

Society's values *definition have changed a great deal in the last half century. Claiming that these are momentary shifts and trying to hold on to your previous way of doing things is a myth-truth. Being aware of changes in values helps solve problems quickly and avoid protracted litigation.
The politics of administrations and Congress may change during the decision process, thus changing policy and priority. Throughout the process, explain what our policy is and where it comes from. Participants need to be aware that public input and actions (e.g., voting or lobbying) can and do change policy.
Decisionmakers use their expectations and standards to shape the organization. When leaders change, explain the leadership change and adapt to the resulting organizational changes by reviewing and revising needs, objectives, and resources/constraints.
Team leaders.
A well-functioning team and up-to-date action plans can inform new leaders about the current activities, the history of the project, and the implications of all the decisions. If the process is already working well, imposing a new way of doing business may create unnecessary confusion, wasted efforts, and even resentment from the continuing participants. New leaders need to use existing institutional structures to explain and work toward their new policies. If the team has not been functioning well, new leaders may need to regroup and revisit the previous actions. If a team has encountered difficulties in the past, the new leader will also grapple with loaded expectations that problems won't be resolved. Establish that leadership has changed and explain how the process will go forward.
Team members
Outgoing and incoming team members need to talk to each other, explain what has been done, and what needs to be done, and outline how to do it in the most effective manner (e.g., who to talk to, what to watch out for, what to pay attention to). Re-examining your division of labor may show some ways to work more efficiently.
In the 1970's, Reclamation devoted 90 percent of its efforts to agricultural water user entities, which accounted for 30 percent of our efforts in the 1990's. This reflects a continuing, long-term trend toward a broader based customer community. Changes are needed to respond to the wider range of needs.

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navigate in the page--Managing Change

You can clear the hurdles of change by:

  • Seeing change as an opportunity
  • Knowing where you are going
  • Planning for change
  • Incorporating change into the process
  • Taking risks

The trick is to get the process to manage change, rather than to let change control the process.

"When things don't work out as promised, it is all too easy to suspect that someone intended they should not." Peter Drucker, Management Consultant

The absence of intelligent decision does not necessarily point to the presence of a conspiracy.

If you ignore changes, they can:

  • Sidetrack a study
  • Undermine your credibility
  • Cause lost trust
  • Foster misunderstandings and conflict

Unaddressed changes confuse participants who no longer know what is coming next. Recognized potential problems do not have the extreme impact that unanticipated problems have. Change is feared and may be opposed by those with vested interests in the status quo. Illustrating tradeoffs, evaluating alternatives ( both with and without the change), showing significant*definition benefits, and/or demonstrating the inevitablity of the change can help alleviate these fears.

Don't tell the town crier you are marrying off the princess without telling her (or her father) first.

Communication is the key to managing change--by staying informed and keeping participants informed. Rather than creating expectations that a particular feature or issue is locked in, let them know that you can't assure that every nut and bolt will be in place. Keep in touch continually with the most likely sources of change and communicate openly about both the sources and outcome of change with everyone. This is especially true for partners who need to know what we are considering doing.

Be sure to include the decisionmakers--communicate early and often!

By treating unexpected changes like any other constraint upon the process, you can discover the underlying, fundamental changes and address those rather than reacting to superficial changes. If real change renders a problem unaddressable or an alternative unfeasible, then re-evaluate the problem or reformulate alternatives.

Changes may also make workable alternatives more desirable or alter their ranking. Explicitly planning for change builds flexibility and coaches everyone to expect change. Use contingency planning in your action plan to be as prepared as possible. Defining set times when you will re-evaluate the process and incorporate changes creates windows of opportunity for coping with change. Set these windows close enough together to keep track of changes, yet far enough apart to get some work done. Brief reality checks and taking stock regularly help keep track of change. When implementing, keep a careful record of changes.

"The best way to predict the future is to create it." Peter Drucker, Management Consultant

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navigate in the page--Go On

Executive Summary Tour Take this car on a fast tour Risk <------> Hurdles Chart

Make it safe to make the change.

Handyman's Tourcompass for handyman's tour Limitations <-----> Level of Detail

Dragon Tour wide-eyed dragon on the loosePriority <----> Hidden Agenda

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Please contact Deena Larsen 303-445-2584 with questions or comments on this material.