Leading Change and the virtue of patience

Image of the glassharmonica, invented by Benja...
The glassharmonica invented by Benjamin Franklin
 “He that can have patience can have what he will.” Benjamin Franklin courtesy of Wally Bock  (who liked the earlier version of this). 

As some will know, I’ve been working my way through Kotter’s eight steps in change leadership again recently. Step Six is to create short-term wins.

Most of the post below was written a little time ago.  It was so well received that is doesn’t make sense to change it entirely but I have added a couple of further thoughts. 

Nothing motivates and gives people confidence more than success. Give your company and your team a taste of victory early in the change process. Within a short time frame (this could be a month or a year, depending on the type of change), you’ll want to have results that your top team and staff can see. Without this, critics, negative thinkers and cynics might hurt your progress.

Big bang changes are fraught with risk and danger; so it makes sense, if you can, to break your change down into manageable modules.  This gives you the opportunity to create short-term targets.  These then build up to your overall long-term goal rather than having just one long-term event. It means you get early benefits.

You want each smaller target to be achievable, with little room for failure, particularly the early ones. Your change team may have to work very hard to come up with these targets, but each “win” that you produce can further motivate and inspire the entire organization. Your early wins inpire confidence so that people are prepared to stay with you for the rest of the journey.

What you can do:

  • Look for sure-fire projects that you can implement relatively quickly and without help from any strong critics of the change.
  • Don’t choose early targets that are expensive. You want to be able to justify the investment in each project.
  • Choose achievements with tangible results that are easily understood and, if possible, bring benefits to many
  • Thoroughly analyze the potential pros and cons of your targets and make sure you really understand what is required. If you don’t succeed with an early goal, it can hurt your entire change initiative.
  • Reward the people who help you meet the targets.
  • Publicize what you have done – get out there and wave your flags

I’d welcome your thoughts on this and if you would like help in leading or managing your change, please get in touch.

A Kotter Reading List for you;

  • Leading Change – dealing with fears and facing up to resistance (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – get your vision into people’s minds and keep it there! (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – Creating a Powerful Guiding Coalition (wisewolftalking.com)
  • Leading Change – deciding who leads! (wisewolftalking.com)

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at wendymason@wisewolfconsulting.com or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 or 

Falling at the first jump; the real value of a change management process.

There is much to be said for being a flexible organisation willing to embrace change.

Enthusiasm is infectious!

Once you get a taste for change, galloping off to follow a new vision can be very exciting!

But there are risks attached, as the IT industry has learned at some cost!

A basic requirement for formal projects of all kinds is to have a change management process. Built into the arrangements will be a procedure for determining what will be gained but also what will be lost, delayed or made more costly as a result.

This process will require the person proposing the change to identify real benefits and real costs. What is going to be gained but also what is involved in delivering the change.  This procedure will also make quite clear at the start who is to sign off the change, who should be consulted and how the decision should be recorded.

It’s a little bit of governance that the IT industry in particular learned the hard way not to avoid. Without some kind of control over change, IT projects can all too easily spiral out of control. They can become undeliverable or too costly and everyone ends up disappointed.

It is no different really to getting someone in to refit your kitchen and deciding half way through that you’ve decided to change your microwave for a range cooker. Oh, and by the way, you are thinking you might knock down a wall and go open plan!

Sadly some organisations decide to make changes to their structure along the lines of our chums with the kitchen

Someone suggests a change that fires the board or the boss with enthusiasm and off they canter towards the far horizon. Half way there the enthusiasm dies as they realise the real costs and just how difficult it is going to be!

It would be much better to take the time out at the beginning to think things through and take some advice.

It won’t be as enjoyable as just galloping off into the sunset but it will mean there is much more chance of getting somewhere, or at least knowing whether “somewhere” is a place you want to visit!

Have you been part of an organisation that just cantered off?  What was it like for you?  Have you been an IT supplier who struggled to get a client to go through a proper change management process? What happened?