Change is something that most people do not like, or at least they say they don’t. Or as my husband is fond of saying, “I like change, as long as it is loose and in my pocket.” Yet for all the unknowns change brings, I happen to like change.
Change comes in many forms like trying a new restaurant, trying something new from the menu, exploring a new location, or even doing something I have never done before. However, change can be disconcerting because you do not know what the outcome will be. You may not like the food you try, you may get lost in a new area, and you may fail at the (new) task you try.
I know you’ve heard this said at least a million times, “But we’ve always done it this way.” And there are certain things that should adhere to “doing it like we did before” – I can’t imagine the folks in accounting walking in one day and saying, yup, we didn’t feel like doing the year-end reporting like before so we tried something new…
Change opens up uncertainty, the possibility of failure, and will increase your stress but without it, you never discover new things or develop and improve. When companies and organizations go through the journey of change, it takes the whole team coming together to make the change journey successful.
Here are a few key things that a healthy team can do to embrace change… and it’s really some of the “same old things” such as:
- Communicate. Share what you know, when you know it.
- Ensure you “bubble up” questions, seek answers and take time to listen.
- Follow the change through to the end. (Since it’s almost football season, here’s an analogy – don’t get to the one yard line and say you’re done, get into the end zone and then say it’s done).
- Support each other through the stress. Some days you will be stressed, other days your teammates will be. Help each other through the stress.
- Keep focused on the journey. When you have a bad day, when you feel you have taken a step backwards – brush it off and tackle the new day with a fresh outlook.
Heading up I-24 into work, I noticed the guy passing me was on his phone, eating with one hand, drinking coffee with the other and speeding. I thought to myself, all he needs is someone in front of him to tap their brakes a little too hard and his day would change in a blink of an eye not to mention how his actions would impact (literally) those around him. Luckily, I exited before finding out the rest of his story.
Because I was contemplating this post I thought of the analogy between that I-24 driver and how making multiple changes while multi-tasking doesn’t affect just you – but how it impacts those around you. As a leader your first priority should be those you serve.
One of the hardest things in problem solving is taking the time to do it right. You have the pressure of leadership wanting an answer, the voice of the customer wanting progress, and the weight of fixing failures before they happen again.
With all that going on, it is easy to succumb to changing everything at once. It could be x, y or z – so let’s change all three and “save” some time.
There is just one problem with that, ok, actually there are many problems with that. You now have NO idea what “thing” fixed the issue, or if all three changes just made it worse. So much for sleeping tonight as you lay awake in bed pondering a new potential outcome.
Tried and true scientific studies specifically control all things AND they only change one thing at a time. A former boss of mine used to say tongue-in cheek, “We never seem to have enough time to do it right the first time, but we always have plenty of time for rework.”
This works in root cause problem solving on the shop floor too. If not, you may find something that correlates, but is not causal. It appears to be fixed, and sometimes for a while. Then one day the problem is back. That is usually a sign you worked on a correlated issue, not a causal issue.
Patience really is a virtue. Work to one change at a time – especially if you really want to find the causal and fix it once and for all.