Translating Learning into Action

By Lindsay Scanlon

View More Responses from Federal Transition Experts

In interviews, I’m often asked about my favorite project. After returning from my first maternity leave, I conducted a four-month organizational assessment, spearheaded by a strong leader I bounced ideas off daily. The project had the full backing of the organization’s senior most leader, who has since spoken about the project as her “legacy” both to a crowd of her peers and on the organization’s onboarding video, and now serves as a member of Presidential Biden’s cabinet. We produced a data-driven evaluation report that was referenced in a Senate budget hearing, and ultimately led the organization to obtain additional staffBoth leaders departed soon after and most of the recommendations were never implemented.  


COVID has been a year of reflection for many, including myself. When else have we had an opportunity to hit the “pause” button? If I had the opportunity to go back in time, I’d offer them the following advice: 

  • Categorize recommendations into themes to focus attention and avoid overwhelming people, particularly when facing more than ten recommendations. 

  • Identify and implement quick wins to build and sustain momentum for change. 

  • Develop an implementation roadmap based on priority, level of effort, and dependencies so stakeholders know when and how they will be affected—what’s in it for me (WIIFM?) 

  • Embed learning into standard operating procedures, tools, and templates, to make it easy and convenient for employees to adjust to change 

  • Use storytelling to highlight the need for changedrive home findings, share early successes, and move people in a way facts and figures alone don’t.    

  • Designate emerging leaders as champions to build support for change and offer them an opportunity for professional development, at minimal cost to an organization. 

  • Hire outside help if colleagues are exhibiting a lack of energy, mental distance from their job, and reduced professional efficacy; burnout isn’t unique to clinicians during COVID-19. Experienced external partners can deliver faster results.

Back to top