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3 things to remember in a change process – Strategically 3 is a magic number

All good things come in 3's ….. and so it is with strategy. There are 3 things to remember in a change process.

  1. CHANGE SOMETHING!
  2. SET CHANGE EXPECTATIONS EARLY
  3. RE-SET CHANGE EXPECTATIONS AGAIN

1. Change something! Unless you believe that your business is operating at its maximum potential (and you believe wrong) there will always be some 'rocks' (problems) lurking inside your business that you can improve or ideally remove. That means you always need to change something!

Getting from A to B - This means change! 

Once upon a time ...Albert Einstein said something like this - the definition of insanity is you keep doing the same things and expecting something different to happen!

If you want to maximise the potential of your business then you always need to keep on making the necessary changes. 'Groundhog Day' was a great movie but it is to be avoided at all costs when in business.

2. Set change expectations early. If you are expecting significant change in your business to be easy - then think again.

Getting from A to B - Maintaining your team desire to get over the 'change hill'. 

Early in WW2, Winston Churchill warned the British people that to win the war was going to be a hard slog. He managed their expectations of a long haul from beginning ('I have nothing to offer in the short term but blood, toil, tears and sweat')  You need to do the same when you start to make big strategic business changes.

Tackling big business problems are often like trying to 'eating an elephant' - not something you want to attempt in one day! Much better to 'slice the elephant up' (apologies to the squeamish) and get your people to 'eat elephant sandwiches' regularly over several weeks/months. That way they can relatively easily 'eat the change elephant' and yet still have time to deal with all the business as usual stuff. 

3. Re-set change expectations again. You really need to be aware that often the 'darkest hour is before the dawn' (of change). Again, as Winston Churchill said in 1941, 'this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end - but it is the end of the beginning!'

Getting from A to B - Maintaining your team desire to get over the 'change hill'. 

Sometimes when you start on a change process - one apparently small change will lead to even bigger, unanticipated changes - which lead to even bigger changes! It can feel like you are pushing an ever-growing snowball uphill (with thanks and appreciation to Chris Ready at DiPrete Engineering for the 'snowball' metaphor).

The best idea is to anticipate the 'growing snowball' - re-set change expectations amongst your people - really encourage them and (particularly important) - do some 'cheering on' while the team are pushing the snowball uphill. Expect to have to motivate them to get to that point where momentum really takes over. But - we all love that tipping point when the hard work begins to pay off.

So- a key rule of strategy - think: 

1. Change something! - 2. Set change expectations early - 3. Re-set change expectations again

Because in strategic terms - 3 is a magic number!

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