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Beating Busy

‘Things are going to change around here’ is a rallying call for culture change that I’ve heard many times from many leaders. Unfortunately I’ve also seen many situations where nothing happens after the call is made. Culture change is different from a change of hardware in that the hardware delivery drives the change. Culture change is largely about changing mindsets and is reliant on soft activities. The trouble with soft activities is that they need people more than things.

I got busy’ is one of the most frequent ‘reasons’ for culture change ‘delays’ and is generally given after the fact when the change has ground to a halt.

The bottom line is you are busy, were busy before you announced change, and will be busy after the change. So busy is not really a good reason to not follow through after you announce change. If busyness is predictable then why not think of how to beat busy in advance and beat your after the events with some ‘ready before the events’

  1. Don’t just announce the idea of change. Do some work on the proposed changes before you announce. If you are wanting to change culture then you will know what needs changed and you can plan the steps of those changes in advance. Sure, some stages rely on the output of other stages, but your first two or three activities can be planned, designed, facilitators booked etc so that everything is ready to role of the shelf.
  2. Who got busy? If the change is all down to you and you got busy then you’ve got even more problems coming (and maybe that’s part of the necessary . Ensure that your senior team/management team etc are involved in planning and preparing the change and can take ownership of certain topics. If something happens that means one topic needs delayed then another can be slotted in.
  3. Change thrives on multiple inputs and multiples of people being involved. Indeed the more people that engage in the change and take ownership for the implementation the better. One way of ensuring that your likely busyness doesn’t get in the way of change is to make your first planned change activities a series of events that engage large groups of the workforce in what the change can look like and how we can get there. Design these so that ‘champions’ from the workforce are sought and empowered to take easy actions as a result.
  4. Communication is your ally. If everything happens at once and you just have no option but to drop the plan for a few weeks then use communication to keep people engaged. Your early Comms will be announcement focused, so follow on Comms will be deeper and more exploratory. Have some pre-written Comms ready before you make an announcement and as your change rolls on always have some topics as ‘ emergency Comms’ to use in the event of a drop in activity.

So what’s the key to these suggestions? Minimise total reliance on you. Maximise involvement of others, launch the change with pre-planned activities that create momentum, communicate.

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