Counter Intuitive Change Advice

We just returned from Montreal where we were facilitating an offsite with a leadership team.Conference Table
Although the focus of our time was on understanding their culture and deciding the initiative to focus on for their culture shift, we also spent time talking about change. What was impressive about this team was their openness to learning, their willingness to make time and their thoughtful approach to pursue results through their people (culture) rather than brute force.
Some of the insights they found useful that we thought you’d benefit from:

  1. Slow down to speed up – When you need to accomplish something rapidly, sometimes moving immediately to action is not the best answer. Slowing down (like this leadership team did) to get aligned on their strategy and culture means that they can accelerate delivery of successful results.  There is a great article from HBR that explains the difference between operational speed (moving quickly) with strategic speed (reducing the time it takes to deliver value.)

  2. Priority is singular – When everything is important, nothing is important. The leadership team recognized that although there was a lot to do, it may not get done well because they are at or above the change capacity of their people. Over the last decade, the word priority has become priorities. Think about the definition of a priority. It means “something that must be considered or done first.” If you are focused on multiple priorities which one is most important? It’s imperative to define an overall priority and then connect change to that priority.

  3. Small Shifts – you create lasting change through small shifts. Big change often starts with a bang and ends with a thud. The key to lasting change is sustainability. As we were discussing the importance of the intentional culture this leadership team wanted to create, they got excited and were imagining how they could apply the from/ to behavior shifts throughout the entire organization. Then they paused and acknowledged that the only way the culture would change is if they applied the shift in a focused way to a specific initiative. That small shift will help the cross-functional team learn a new way of behaving that reinforces the from>to shift.

We’re happy to be back in Chicago. Tomorrow we are facilitating another leadership offsite and helping fifty leaders better understand the impacts of change and how to manage it more successfully. Do you notice a theme here?!?

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