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Simple Approach / Plan for Change

How to drive change in a predictable and reproducible manner has been a topic of discussion with three of my mentees.  Why predictable and reproducible?  The answer is simple, when you shock people, they tend to stop and evaluate what is going on before moving forward.  So if our behavior is predictable, then we will not shock them.  As leaders, we are expected to reproduce results consistently and being able to do it once, just makes us lucky.

Experience has taught me that I can greatly increase the chances of success by reducing the number of variables or unknowns.  As a result, I use a pragmatic approach with as little process as possible and keep things simple, thereby making things easy to explain and easy to understand.  For more mature or process heavy personalities or organizations, this approach might not be acceptable.

This approach works as long as the plan takes into consideration the unique situational requirements and evaluates progress / results on a regular basis.   This means that you only need to change where needed and not reinvent the wheel every time.

So, to the plan.  There are four key areas of the plan.  The first is Awareness followed by a Planning phase before the Execution phase.  A much forgotten phase is Monitoring or measuring the progress, or destruction.  Here is a visual representation which hopefully makes things clearer.

 

Awareness

In this phase we need to become aware of the problem or issue.  If is it is a behavioral issue, someone might provide us with feedback.  If it is a business opportunity, this might be a customer or prospect sharing with us their business challenge.

Recognizing this phase:

  • Becoming aware of a situation that we were previously unaware of.  The Ah Ha moment.
  • Finding out that there are different perspectives to the one that we have.  Most often we personalize this and say that person has a different opinion.

Manager’s Note:

  • If you need to provide someone with behavioral feedback, it is important to focus on the behavior and not your judgement.
  • This phase can be traumatic, be patient with your people and help them through it.

Risks:

  • Often we tend to ignore or deny the incoming data / perspective because the situation does not match our preconceived idea or notion of how we want it to be.  Ignorance is bliss, or is it?
  • This phase can be traumatic and depending on the implications or if the situation it may have an emotional on us.

 

Plan

If we don’t know where we are going, how are we going to get there?  In some cases we also need to take a look at where we are and then determine the gap between where we are and where we want to go before we start down the road.  I am not advocating analysis paralysis but at lest know what you are going to do.  A very important element of this phase is what are measurements are we going to use to determine if our execution phase is working or not.  The monitoring phase will help you determine if the plan is working or not.

Recognizing this phase:

  • Deciding what to do and what not to do.
  • Providing clarity around where we are going or what we need to do.
  • When people ask what needs to be done.

Manager’s Note:

  • clarity, clarity, clarity
  • Sometimes you need to place a bet and make a move rather standing still and looking around.
  • Continue to gather feedback.
  • Being in a management position, does not always give you the right to dictate the plan.
  • Ensure that the plan is being communicated in a manner that people understand it.
  • It is OK for the plan to be different to how you would do it.  Diversity is great!!

Risks:

  • Not doing anything because waiting for the data. (analysis paralysis)
  • Omitting this step.  If you don’t plan, the execution phase will be delayed while people work out what they need to do.
  • Not using data to define the path forward.  Be careful about perceptions because they depend on the person and the filters that person uses.
  • Bad or no communication does not make it a bad plan.  In some cases, the plan may lay out the lesser of two evils and therefore it will be unpopular.

 

Execution

This phase is all about delivering the results as defined by in the plan.  If you, or the people executing the plan, are not clear about what needs to be done, go back to planning.

Recognizing this phase:

  • There is work that needs to be done.
  • The plan is defined and now needs to be executed.

Manager’s Note:

  • Do not get in the way of the execution.
  • Being critical of the execution.

Risks:

  • Losing focus
  • The execution elements where not simplified or fragmented enough to be executed because they are still too large or complicated.

 

Monitor

This often overlooked phase is key because it provides us with the safety net for the planning and execution phases by monitoring  how the execution phase is really addressing the need.

Recognizing this phase:

  • The execution is in full swing.
  • People are providing feedback on the progress, or lack thereof.
  • Not knowing if are making progress or not, it’s time to monitor.

Manager’s Note:

  • Monitoring is not a step that people like.  In most cases, they do not like to be measured.
  • Feedback is a form of measurement, it is just subjective.

Risks:

  • In most cases, we are not very good monitoring ourselves.
  • Skipping this step means that you never know how you are progressing.
  • Not having milestones or metrics means that progress is subjective.
  • Not having a baseline before you started executing means that you do not know if your are having a positive or negative impact.

 

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