Change is a relay. It is.
If you ask me, change is not a sprint. It cannot be a sprint. Sustainable change can rarely be executed at breakneck speed and it rarely is a linear process.
Change can neither be a marathon. Change is not a linear process and it is not just about endurance. Not to forget that change is not a solitary game!
A sprint is a single person’s test for agility; A marathon is a single person’s test for endurance; A relay is however a team’s test for co-ordination, speed, endurance and above all consistency!
Change for me is a relay. Change is a non-liner process consisting a multiple virtuous cycles. With each cycle, you move closer to the goal. With each cycle, Leaders change, approach might be fine-tuned; you know that you are moving one step closer to the ultimate goal.
What I want to do using the relay analogy is to highlight 2 key (and often overlooked) aspects of change
- Non-linear execution and the existing of virtuous cycles
- Constantly evolving and interchanging leadership roles
One of the biggest mistakes in change management projects that they are managed using traditional project/ program management approach which assumes that there are series of sequential events that need to happen in order to reach a final goal at the end of the journey. In my experience change rarely takes place in this fashion. Successful change is usually executed in a treasure hunt/ puzzle manner where you only have visibility of next few steps and you have to continuously improvise, re-imagine and push on while doing everything.
The other hangover of traditional project execution is the belief that same/ similar project structure, leadership is good for entire change life cycle. It isn’t! Take any change management approach and you will find that each stage requires unique skill-sets and different style of leadership to harness those skill-sets. It is unfair to expect same set of people or leaders to have all those skill sets. Successful change execution requires fluid concept of team structure and emergent, interchanging leadership.
Most of the change management projects that I have come across are typically technology enabled or technology led. Teams managing these projects need to unlearn years of traditional project management techniques and embrace the flexibility needed to deliver successful change