Taking the right amount of time

Posted by Mike Kaaks

19 January 2013

Don't be too bullish when mapping out your change plan. I did some work recently which opened my eyes to a different way of coming out of a vision / changed future exercise. The insight is that it's ok if you don't start on the new stuff straight away. In this case the team agreed to allow six months to clear the decks so there was free air for the new initiatives. They gave themselves six months to tidy up the things which lead to having the workshop in the first place, to deal with them properly rather than allow them to become firefights and crises which would impede the new development.
It's another slant on the vexed change management question of what to stop doing in order to make way for the new. You've been there - you want to do things differently but there are many problems to be dealt with, fires to be put out. So in the case in question the team built a very motivating view of how they wanted to be and when looking at their change agenda said we are not going to get started until all this current stuff is out of the way. They allowed for some aspects of the new approach to be started - mobilising the team; completing its charter, communicating with stakeholders. This approach allows for the energy required to build steadily over those six months. It also means that the findings agreed in the workshop don't get lost; either by sitting on the shelf whilst the team waits out the six months, or worse, because dealing with the status quo leaves them feeling they can never break into the new way of doing things.
We often lament to each other the fact that time goes so fast, that this year is faster than last year and so on. If we apply that perspective of time to the choice this team made, the six months will be gone before they know it. Their prize for taking advantage of this is huge - a much greater chance of success with their new initiative.
I mentioned the status quo earlier (and in other blogs), it is like mud around your ankles, it's a barrier to success when you are implementing change. Not getting too bullish, not being too excited and allowing time to clear away that mud means more success for your new initiatives.