This blog discusses the third trap you have to avoid while implementing any change initiative.
Trap No.3: What is ‘done’?
During implementation planning, you will create various plans and use tools that define implementation work as discrete tasks. That may be extremely valuable, but if we are not careful – if we focus too much on things that can be declared ‘done’ – we can lose track of the ‘level of effort’ work that needs to be performed steadily into the future, such as:
- Communication planning
- Measurements of quality and performance
- Mentoring for behavioral changes, such as prioritization and reduced multitasking
- Transfer of methodology elements to the people doing the work
- Process ownership and improvement
It can sometimes be dangerous to declare work ‘done’. Often people assume that these kinds of activities are discrete tasks. They decide, for example, that implementation planning or measurements are no longer necessary once the implementation seems to be going well. They declare ‘done’ but, by taking their eye off the ball, eventually run into problems with stakeholders that could lead to the failure of the change initiative.
Not all implementation work fits neatly into a project plan. Put another way: if all your implementation work fits neatly into a project plan, you are missing something. This should not be surprising, because a project is a temporary endeavor and an implementation should be an ongoing process.
- Do we create a sense of urgency and then declare ‘done’ or do we continue to communicate and reinforce the vision and urgency?
- Do we plan how to overcome the initial obstacles or continue to evaluate new ones?
- Do we declare ‘done’ for an implementation or assume that it is part of a process that will never be ‘done’?
We cannot answer these questions by adding tasks to an implementation plan.
- We need measurements of value and measurements of implementation status.
- We need communication of expectations and results.
- We need to understand urgency and feed it into daily and weekly communications.
- And we need to have people who are responsible for filling these needs.
You need to:
- Maintain a communication plan.
- Create oversight processes to ensure quality problems are addressed.
- Hold regular steering and implementation team meetings in which critical issues are discussed.
- Create forums for internal experts to share knowledge.
- More broadly, create a CORE culture that rewards people for communicating honest expectations and results, whether those results are deemed good or bad.
If you are careful to avoid these three traps while implementing your change initiative – by transferring ownership of the implementation, creating realistic expectations, and acknowledging the fact that some implementation tasks will never be completely ‘done’ – then you will be successful.
I hope my suggestions will help you to overcome the uptake problem of your change initiative, produce and sustain long-term benefits and make the change stick.
CORE: developed by ProChain Solutions
Article based on Rob Newbold, Making Change Stick, from the book Cox III, James F., and Schleier Jr., John G.,eds. Theory of constraints handbook. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., 2010. p. 108-112