Key Point: I have been involved with leading change all my life and if I have come to understand anything, it’s that change does not take place in linear, comfortable ways. It is kind of like saying… “I want to get fit, so I am going to focus exclusively on exercise. So I am going to get training shoes, then exercise gear, then start walking 10 minutes at a time. But I am NOT going to change my nutrition, and other habits that detract from my fitness. It is just toooo hard to attend to exercise AND nutrition at the same time. It is too chaotic, too confusing and just too much to ask of anyone.” Frankly, I think that’s a big cop out.
When you change something that involves a “system” I deeply believe you need to work on ALL elements of the system at the same time. If you read my previous blog, you may wonder if this is a contradiction to small, methodical incremental steps. No it is not. I just believe you need to work on the entire system simultaneously… Each element, one step at a time.
If one is leading a change in an organization, you need to establish a vision and desired future state. However, if you think that an aspirational statement is enough, you will likely be disappointed with the speed of change. You also have to work on the complimentary people, production and measurement systems simultaneously. Great leaders know this and that’s why the best CEOs make lots of money. They are capable of leading continuous, simultaneous large system change, while keeping organizations from spinning out of control from the rotation. Sometimes people confuse focus, with incremental change on all elements of a system. If you are comforted by linear, pedestrian, process only type change, go find an institution or system protected from the volatility, uncertainty, and the turbulent environment we live in. Good luck.
- Think of yourself as a system. What is your purpose? Where are you going? What is your desired future state? Write it out.
- Define each element you need to work on and FOCUS on small forward steps in EACH. Do not be linear and singular unless you are only wishful or have an unlimited timetable in achieving a desired future state.
- Recognize that some “just focus” people, may never have managed a transformation of any significance and are comforted by the “never ever” outcome and/or standing on the sidelines, too timid to step into the traffic.
- Remember that you have to explain to yourself and others how each element impacts the system. If you or they do not connect the dots, they (or you) may roll over and default into linear incrementalism.
Parallel focus in the Triangle,