When the Load is Heavy and Hill is High: How to Use an Effective Change Process to Not Go It Alone
By Lisa Diaz, Lumen Impact Group, Founder
Imagine I present you with two options:
Option 1: Drag a full wagon of rocks up a steep hill on your own.
Option 2: Same wagon full of rocks and same hill, but this time, you get a team of people to push from behind as you climb the steep hill.
And now you’re probably thinking, “well this is a ridiculous exercise in imagining because obviously option 2,” right?
While it may seem obvious that we’d all chose option 2, my guess is that we have all found ourselves feeling like the single-handed wagon puller in option 1 at some point or another when we’ve tried to initiate something new in our organization.
So, in those instances, how did you end up struggling to drag your wagon alone? Where was the team to help push the heavy wagon up the hill when obviously you’d have rather had help? Well, the answer often lies in how we as leaders initiated the change way down at the bottom of the hill.
Often, the pressure to achieve results is a huge driver in change, and because time never seems to be on our side, we try to move quickly. The tricky thing with a quick start is that it can lead to a very long, and often much slower climb up that steep hill if you even make it up at all. If the goal is impact and impact quickly, we have to consider how we are going about leading the change that will get us there.
At Lumen Impact Group, we like to use the concepts in the model of the Bottom-Line Change process to get to that impact.
This change process starts with a vision story that, with vivid color, paints a picture of the future impact of the change. It incorporates feedback from stakeholders and the building of champions as you move through the change process. The real secret sauce of this process is listening, engaging, and empowering those who will be the key executors of the change—your team of wagon movers.
A common counter argument we hear from leaders when it comes to implementing a collective change process is “but we don’t have time.” My challenge to that counter is this: Is impact about starting a new program/project? Or, is impact about the results that are achieved from that new program/project?
To get to results, yes, you have to go a little slower at the start. And no, you will not have 100% buy-in when you kick-start the change. However, bringing others into your process will ensure that you’re not left alone and struggling to pull that wagon to the top of the hill, potentially abandoning it part way.
So, next time you’re staring at a wagon full of rocks and a big hill, I want to encourage you to take a step back and…
Listen– collect feedback from stakeholders and really listen to their thoughts on the initiative, and how it may move forward.
Engage– bring others into the decision-making process and paint a vision of what success looks like together.
Empower– build your team and let them own their part of getting the rocks up the hill.
Not only will this kind of change process bring you the impact you are hoping for, but it will also continue to solidify your team culture.