Dec 13, 2018
NEW SOLUTIONS! INNOVATIVE APPROACHES! EXCITING
It’s exciting to invent or discover new ways of doing things, or
to go to a meeting and leave motivated with someone’s unique
approach to business. But one of many hurdles that can challenge us
is called the Planning Fallacy—we are generally quite inaccurate
when it comes to predicting how long something is going to take to
do and how hard it will be to accomplish. But this bias isn’t all
bad; many times we can get halfway through an undertaking and think
to ourselves, If I had known it was going to be this hard, I
wouldn’t have started. The hope is that the thing we are doing is
valuable, and that our optimism got us started on something that we
may not have otherwise done. It’s good to have this built-in
optimism because it gets us going. But there is another element
that is much more dangerous—the assumption that introducing the
idea equates to implementing it.
It happens to the best of us: we decide to make a change, and
dedicate ourselves to that change. We probably stick to it for a
while, but before long it’s back to our old habits. When these
things happen, we might feel discouraged. We spent the money on the
new accounting system and we still haven’t switched to it as our
$1,000 treadmill sits in the basement with less than a mile on it.
Today we’re getting into the key elements of what makes some
changes easy and others seemingly impossible—and as leaders how we
can approach change differently.
FIVE PRINCIPLES FOR SUCCESS IN CHANGE
- Sometimes we can buy a solution, while other times the
solution is a process. Know the difference. If we realize
that we are having a problem getting fieldwork done because we are
short a tractor, then all we have to do is buy a tractor. If we see
that we’d be able to speed up repairs with a cordless impact
wrench, the all we have to do is buy the wrench and voilà! Problem
solved. Unfortunately, many of our biggest results come from a
change in process or behavior instead. Leaders need to be able to
distinguish between when buying something solves the problem and
when it is just part of an overall process change.
- Clarify the issue and the benefit of the
solution. It’s really easy to fall in love with cool
solutions. Maybe it’s some new way of doing things you heard a
speaker relay, or a really neat piece of equipment you saw at a
trade show—but before you write the check, get clear on what the
problem really is: How big is the problem? Is it even worth
solving? Once you’re clear on the problem, shift to clarifying what
you really want and how the team or organization will be better off
after solving the problem. Nobody likes putting effort into
something that isn’t really worth the time, or if they have to do
it just because the boss said to. Connect with the why to create
more personal buy-in to the change effort.
- Identify the hurdles you will face in the
process. For success to happen after implementing a
change, we need to be able to look out into the future for
potential situations or tendencies that could derail our progress.
The leader is required to model the way over these hurdles; to slow
down and coach new behavior and expectations.
- Incorporate the players. Change is usually a
a. Identify who is going to be affected by taking
a new approach, and bring them into the solution process—What
changes would they recommend to the process? How are we going to
support each other in the change? And make sure they and other team
members have the authority to hold even the boss accountable for
staying on track with the new process.
b. Identify other players who are part-time and
need to be trained;
c. Or it could be family members who like to
randomly come by and make a mess.
By identifying the players you have a chance to bring them into the
solution and communicate what the new expectations will be.
- Keep banging the drum. During the change
process, the leader needs to be consistent in focusing the team on
the goal, on coaching people with their little decisions, and
regularly bringing people back to the basics of what has to be done
differently. It’s catching people doing the right thing. It’s
coaching people on the small stuff. It’s training on expectations
for new people.
This is the real work of leadership. What we focus on
grows—which means we can’t focus on everything. We can’t fall in
love with every new shiny idea. It’s having the discipline to say
“No” to new ideas because you know the team doesn’t have the
capacity to add another change just yet.
Thanks for listening! Email me any questions or comments at
See you next week!
Episode #77: Ideas are easy. Change is hard