The Birmingham Sunday Mercury reported in December 2000:
Bosses of a publishing firm are trying to work out why no one noticed that one of their employees had been sitting dead at his desk for five days before anyone asked if he was feeling OK.
George Turklebaum, 51, who had been employed as a proofreader at a New York firm for 30 years, had a heart attack in the open-plan office he shared with 23 other workers.
He quietly passed away on Monday but nobody noticed until Saturday morning when an office cleaner asked him why he was still working during the weekend.
How do you walk past a dead guy?
In his book, Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud writes about the importance of pruning. He teaches that a gardener cuts off branches and buds that are healthy but not the best or sick but not going to get well or dead and taking up space needed for healthy ones to survive. He then writes, “(1) If an initiative is siphoning off resources that could go to something with more promise, it is pruned. (2) If an endeavor is sick and is not going to get well, it is pruned. (3) If it’s clear that something is already dead, it is pruned.
How do you walk past a dead initiative?
Companies get so buried in daily responsibilities they overlook what really matters. Digital Transformation matters, and the effort it takes to rally, craft and drive that initiative matters. In Part 1, we talked about rallying change through how you motivate, relate and connect.
Part 2 addresses how change needs to be crafted.
Establishing pace is essential. Pace deals with size and seasons. Leaders manage Digital Transformation so that reasonable benchmarks are reached in rational time.
Pace is critical. Michael Easter was the number one cyclist in California. During one race he cramped up and could not finish. He commented later, “All the skill and all the will can’t overcome dehydration.”
Chip and Dan Heath, in their book Shift add, “Self-control is an exhaustible resource. The bigger the change the more it saps self-control. When people exhaust self-control, they exhaust the mental muscles needed to think creatively, to focus, to inhibit impulse, to persist in the face of frustration…Change is hard because people wear themselves out. What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.”
Three types of changes determine the size and seasons of changes.
1. Immediate Changes
- What will we do to demonstrate that things are happening.
- What small wins will validate the sacrifice people make?
- What do people need to hear, to see or to experience that communicates this is change toward progress?
Chip and Dan Heath reinforce this, “Change feeds on itself. Small change snowballs to big change.”
Immediate changes must result in positive experiences and allow leaders to reinforce the behavior they want to see. Group perception begins to shift. People do what others are doing. You’ve established an environment that fosters the new.
2. Incremental Changes
Long term vision; short term views. Incremental changes understand the impact of change and gives time for employees to understand and utilize new systems, processes and components.
- Where immediate changes inspire, incremental changes anchor.
- If X is implemented, what, if anything, might be unattended that is still a critical function to us?
- If X is implemented, what, if anything, could be more than people can handle?
- Time invested in one function means time may not be invested in another: When can we let go of something and not be impacted negatively?
- How is the energy level? Do we need a celebration or a rest?
- Do we have the right people in place to keep moving the right things forward?
- Are the financial resources still in place for the next piece?
3. Ideological Change
Seth Godin in Tribes writes, “Ideas that spread, win…Do what you believe in. Paint a picture. Go there…The very nature of leadership is that you’re not doing what’s been done before. If you were, you’d be following, not leading.”
Ideology is belief that moves forward; it is vision turned into identity, capacity and destiny. Ideology clarifies, multiplies and solidifies.
- You are immersed into Digital Transformation for a reason. How will people know, always, how these changes more firmly define them?
- How will people experience greater growth themselves and, therefore, a sense of greater contribution than they have made before?
How do your ideas fulfill what your employees always hoped would be true of your company or of their talent?
Leaders craft change. They prune. They pace. They purposefully implement what is new.
But they must drive what has been designed. And that is Part 3.