Energy can quickly drain out of a big change for a variety of reasons. But I heard a new one recently.
I was interviewing a senior person in an organization regarding a study I am doing on Batteries Not Included™. She said that they did a great job Making a Case for Changes and Getting Started on the Right Foot, but something happened as projects tried to move to the Implementation stage. Their batteries just seemed to give out.
Then it hit her that the problem wasn’t lack of talent, motivation, or clear goals, it was much simpler. The leaders and change teams who handled Getting Started on the Right Foot did their jobs well. And, the organization assigned good leaders and teams for the Implementation stage as well.
But, the hand-off from one stage to the other was the problem. I told her that I was imagining a relay race where each runner was a speed demon but they never practiced handing the baton to the next runner. Speed along. Stop. Pick up the baton. Speed along. Stop. Etc. etc.
Here are some tips that might help if you face a similar challenge.
1. Keep the same leadership intact from Getting Started through Implementation. You might even keep the same planning team in place. Consistency can be very important with big projects, especially those that last over a number of months.
2. If you must hand off leadership, then do what runners do – practice the handoff. How do you do that?
• Anticipate and list all of the places where people could drop the baton.
• Come up with a specific step-by-step plan that you will executive to avoid those problems. Don’t be satisfied with platitudes like “we’ll communicate,” “we will key our eye on the ball (or baton)” Be specific.
For instance: Here is why the baton usually gets dropped. To avoid that, the two leaders and their teams need to meet to identify when the handoff will occur, what the handoff will look like, who will monitor the shift in leadership, and how will we get back on track if we do happen to drop the ball.
3. Come up with a Plan B just in case someone drops the baton.
Those tips are simple. That’s good news. But it will demand that you pay attention to the movement around the track.
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