Monday, October 6, 2008

Speeding up change.

Doing business today reminds me of a passage in one of Schubert’s piano sonatas marked, “As fast as possible,” which is followed a few bars later with the admonition, “Faster.” Today, it’s much better to be 80% right fast than 100% right slow. As General Patton said, “A good battle plan you act on today can be better than a perfect one tomorrow.” And as Thomas Edison said, “Everything comes to those who hustle while they wait.”

When Frances Hesselbein was running the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., there was significant resistance to a new division she wanted to introduce called Daisy Girl Scouts for 5 year olds. Hesselbein choose to offer the program but not mandate it. “You can’t wait for everyone to get on the sled.” she said later. ”If you have people with needs, put them on the sled, and off you go. But don’t force those who aren't ready.” When the sled left, only 70 of the 336 local Girl Scout councils were aboard. Four years later, all of them were. By making change an option rather than an edict, Hesselbein found a way to walk in front while making everyone feel she was walking with them.

Hesselbein advocated eight principles to guide the process of planning and implementing effective change:

1. Figure out why you’re in business.
2. Mission comes first.
3. Challenge the gospel.
4. Ban the hierarchy.
5. Walk like you talk.
6. Lead from the front, don’t push from the rear.
7. The more power you give away, the more power you have.
8. Leverage your strengths.

You can change an organization quickly when;
- It’s small.
- There’s a crisis.
- You have power and are prepared to use it to force the change through.
- Core work processes are sequential and self-contained.
- The product life-cycle is changing rapidly.
- You have a history of success.

Otherwise,
- Pick a few ambitious and significant enterprise-wide goals, carefully identifying those where change can yield the biggest “bang for the buck.”
- Involve everyone in transforming how they work to achieve these goals quickly.
- Keep your priorities straight and don’t get distracted. If you’re clear-minded about what you want to achieve, you can open people’s minds by narrowing their thinking.
- Tie senior management’s promotion and bonus opportunities to achieving the results.
- Keep the focus as positive as possible (improve, don’t fix).
- Create a sense of urgency. Implementation will peter out unless the case for doing it is compelling, urgent and constantly refreshed.
- Work to create a critical mass in change initiatives. Think of a snowball dropped on a hill. If it’s too small, it goes plop and just stays there; if it’s the right size, it begins to roll and gets bigger and bigger.
- Reinvent yourself every year, and concentrate on developing infrastructure to make even more change possible faster in the future.

Patience, persistence and insistence eventually lead to repetition and consensus. Dreams and dedication are a powerful combination. “Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it” – Goethe

2 comments:

Jon said...

"Today, it’s much better to be 80% right fast than 100% right slow"

I agree. I would also argue that given today's fast pace, if you try and hit 100% you will either a) never get there because the market is changing faster than you can keep up or b) by the time you get there the market will have changed and your 100% wont be the right 100% anymore.

cukie6 said...

This is a very good post.

I like these guidelines
1. Figure out why you’re in business.
2. Mission comes first.
3. Challenge the gospel.
4. Ban the hierarchy.
5. Walk like you talk.
6. Lead from the front, don’t push from the rear.
7. The more power you give away, the more power you have.
8. Leverage your strengths.

I also think Jon is right! Good comment.

:-)