Change cannot be happen unless (and until) we identify what needs to be altered, why it needs to be modified, what resistance we might face when setting and embarking upon a new and different course and what we expect to accomplish – what positive outcomes and results might we realize. We must establish goals that not only define where we wish to travel but address the route we might choose and any detours that could disrupt our journey. We should include stakeholders whose participation could “make or break” our safe passage as well as those who might be impacted (either negatively OR positively) by a change in course.
While gathering input from others is a good thing, effective change most typically comes through GUIDED discussions that are focused on an initial anticipated outcome (even if the outcome and objective might change during the facilitated discussion) rather than wide-open agendas having no leadership or coordination. Good leaders often set goals then gather input from stakeholders as to how they might best accomplish the established objective. Great leaders often identify what needs to be changed, talk to stakeholders about why the change must happen, then work with others to move towards a resolution that is better than what is currently in place BUT that may end up being but a resting point rather than a final destination.
In order to initiate (and successfully implement) change, end up in a different place or experience unexpected results, one must:
- Set a realistic and attainable goal
- Involve stakeholders who may be impacted by change
- Initiate action then either lead, follow or get out of the way
- Monitor progress and generate (and communicate) reports to maintain momentum
- Feel free to change course if conditions change BUT communicate both the new direction AND why the focus must shift – defining the new destination – prior to acting
- Be willing to persevere (potentially against all odds) if the reward is worth the risk
- Praise loudly and publicly when actions or activities deserve recognition
- Criticize quietly and privately when needed BUT NEVER without offering alternative solutions or actions to the path that did not produce anticipated outcomes chosen by the individual or group
- Place the value of change above being recognized as its initiator or the one responsible for its accomplishment
- Internalize the belief that much can be accomplished if one does not care whom receives the credit for its being done
Choose goals that, if achieved, actually mean something to you and those around you. Goals based on important, closely-held values will be the most meaningful AND you will be more likely to achieve them. Our willingness to change is much higher when we WANT to do something differently than it is if we ARE TOLD to act differently. When seeking change, give yourself the best chance of realizing your goal by directing your efforts towards its accomplishment (while recognizing and rewarding each measurable step towards its accomplishment). Recognize there is not “right or wrong way” to achieve results. If you must focus on one step at a time while focusing all your efforts towards the accomplishment of each individual task, establish your expectations accordingly. If you “multi-task” and feel the need to juggle multiple priorities, establish systems that will allow you to diversify your efforts yet maintain a reasonable timetable for the completion of a variety of activities.
Change WILL happen regardless of what we may say or do. The keys to managing and accomplishing successful change cycles would include:
- Identifying what must be improved (deficiencies) and objectives (outcomes)
- Planning alternatives
- Reacting to disruptions
- Anticipating objections
- Responding to detractors (and distractions)
- Monitoring activities
- Reporting progress, and
- Maintaining momentum
- Concluding efforts and initiating “closure”
- Repeat – as often as necessary!