Most of us know that insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. And staggeringly, we see organizations stepping on the same nail over and over again when it comes to launching effective cultural or behavior type change initiatives. If you and your organization don’t consider a few common human factors, your next initiative will be fast tracked for the graveyard.
People Are Skeptical For Good Reason
It’s too easy to point to the previous organizational efforts that failed and were seemingly forgotten as quickly as they started. There is a skeptic like stance that most initiatives fail. This is because most of them do fail! People don’t like to bet on the horse that they know isn’t going to win. Besides, they “invested” their efforts for the last forgotten initiative and for what? Head it off at the pass and account for the skepticism. This will require you to dial up the empathy so your people understand that you and the organization realize what’s being asked of them based on the potentially less than stellar track record. The burden of proof that what you are doing matters is on you and the organization. Not them.
Very Few Leaders Will Walk The Walk
If you and your organization are going to ask or demand that people “behave” differently than your senior leaders had better take a good hard look in the mirror, do a gut check, and figure out if they have the stomach for what is required. Sadly, very few senior leadership teams collectively walk the walk. I can count on one hand how many I’ve seen in years of doing this type of work, that are close to capable. There’s always someone being tolerated that is seen as untouchable or exempt from investing his or her own efforts in the same way as everyone else. Your people need to see you and other leaders walk the walk. If they don’t, they simply won’t believe. If they don’t believe, you got no shot.
Don’t Talk About It. Just Do It.
If you really want your effort to have a chance to succeed, don’t draw attention to it. If you make it a big deal than you will trigger skepticism for many reasons including the ones above. A senior leader for one of our clients stood amongst the entire senior leadership of the organization and implored all the other leaders to not refer to the work we were doing as an initiative. To his credit, he realized that every time the organization launched another “initiative” it was dead on arrival. Happy to report we are over a year into the project and it continues to grow organically within the organization and yield tangible measurable sustainable results.
Hope this helps expand your thinking. As always, any comments or thoughts are encouraged and welcomed. Especially, if they counter to mine.