Being an Agent of Change

k2887267“Why do you cut the ends off the roast before cooking it?” a husband asked his wife.  “Because my mother did it this way” she answered with a smile.

Curious, the husband called his wife’s mother and asked her the same question. When she gave the exact same answer he called his wife’s grandmother who was still living.

She thought a moment and then started laughing.  “I don’t know why they do it.  I had to cut both ends off because the roast was too long for the short pan I had.”

Some leaders do things just because we have always done it that way, like the story above.  Over time, even the best practice can lose its usefulness.  It takes a wise leader to know when to change something.

Some leaders are anxious to change things.  They welcome it.  In fact, they move so fast that their followers follow with uncertainty and caution.  Others are actually afraid of change and resist until they become immobile and unable to make decisions.  An effective leader is somewhere between.

There is always a big picture and a little picture  Depending on the leader, some get stuck in the big picture and become impatient until they have the whole thing, and some never even consider a new, bigger picture.

Here are five things I have learned after fifty years of being called a ‘agent of change’.

Slower is Better  With any change, move very slowly and be sure to keep people informed. Develop a set of ‘stepping stones’ from where you are to where you want to be and make each of those ‘stones’ a separate picture that you focus on, then. take those steps one at a time.  Make sure they are well announced and documented.  People will accept change much quickly if it doesn’t come with surprises.

Small Successes Are Still Successes   Be content to  change in those small steps.  Set a goal for what you want to happen and then decide what small step you need to take first.  Often the first step will help take the second step.  Do the first step right and the others will be easy to follow.

Practice Is Necessary  Don’t leap past that first step until you have it in place.  If you leave a weak link behind your segments of change, the whole thing may fail.  Practice each step until everyone gets it.

Change Requires Structure
 Now build your organization around that first step.  Make sure you can manage it.  Promote it before you move on to the next step.  Also, give people credit who deserve it.

Being Is Easier Than Becoming  
Sometimes you may need to slow down and let the dust settle before you move on.  There may be a need to adjust your plan to make a different change. Standing on a solid organization is always easier than standing on a changing organization.

So, husband, having spoken to grandmother, how will you bring about this change and get your wife to stop cutting off the ends of the roast?  Or, is it a change that needs to be made?  That’s the most important of all questions related to change!!!!

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