Back to Work!

As I walked through the woods today, and noticed the trees taking on some color, I felt a bit like the woman in the commercial who see's the first fallen leaf of the season and runs screaming from the sidewalk; you know the one, she just can't cope with the notion that summer is actually coming to an end. Huh...neither can I.

This has been a banner summer for Ontario with temperatures that take you back in time to the beach, or the cottage or wherever you spent your lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. We've had the kind of weather you drift back to as you're standing in a three-foot high snow bank on a downtown Toronto street in January... scraping your windows.

So, as we collectively buy school supplies, put away our shorts and close up the cottage, and prepare to return our noses to the grindstone of real life, I can't help but wonder how the world of business will fare in this 'not quite a recovery' economic climate. How will business owners and their employees walk the line between being both courageous and cautious? How will teams innovate when their instincts may still be telling them to reign in, be careful and keep scanning the skies for signs of, well anything, that might point the way back to business as usual?

In this atmosphere of ambiguity, there is still one thing I know for sure. I know that as employees listen to the 'Big Plans' or 'New Directions' their leaders roll out for their adoption, they will be deciding whether to throw their lot in with the change; they'll be looking for:

Common Ground: People want to know if their leaders really understand them. They want to feel that you appreciate their challenges; and can relate to their situation.
Authenticity: They want to know if you're real; followers want transparency; the stakes are too high today to be kept in the dark. Feeling manipulated by your leader is intolerable when people are being asked to step up or take one for the team.
Love: Yep, love. If people are going to follow you into an uncertain future they want to know you care about them. Employees aren't as impressed with degrees and 'know how' as much as they are with your genuine interest in them and empathy towards them.

Remember, 'If you don't engage people's heads and hearts, you'll loose their hands.'

Need to review your preparedness for leading the changes that this new season of business will bring? Call us. We have assessment change tools and programs designed to help you be the Change Champion that people want to follow.

Are You the Most Likely to Succeed?

When I was in High School, every year the senior class chose a boy and girl who we thought would be the, 'Most Likely to Succeed'. We cast our votes for who we saw as having the magic combination of characteristics that would ensure career and life success. We were teenagers then and the science behind the voting was imperfect, of course. We selected candidates who were good looking and popular, more often than academically sound or ambitious. I never made the list.... ah, the tragedy!

So, what are the characteristics that make a change effort, Most Likely to Succeed?

When you're working on a project, solving a problem or loosing weight, there's nothing quite like the Big break-through. We're all looking for those dramatic surges of progress, those quantum leaps. We love the energy that comes with a major find, a timely innovation or the discovery of a brand new way of tackling an issue. Yeah...that's the key ingredient - right? Well, not exactly.

Oh, those mammoth advances happen sometimes, and we need to be looking for them and ready when they materialize. But the kind of change that lasts, is mostly the incremental kind. It comes by taking one well-considered step after another, again and again. This is especially true when you're introducing anything completely new to internal or external customers.

Here are some characteristics of innovative ideas most likely to succeed.

Stepped: These are ideas or processes that can be adopted in segments or phases. Users can ease into them, a step at a time. Even better adoption comes when customers or staff can use the new idea, product or process in parallel with what they are already doing.

Trial-able: This is when the idea, process or product can be test-driven on a pilot basis. Customers can see it in action first and incorporate it on a small scale before committing to full enchilada.

Minimal Risk: If it doesn't work, people can return to pre-innovation status. Eventually, of course, you want people to feel like they can't live without it, but in the beginning -at least in theory - it's possible to go back to zero.

Familiar: It looks and feels like things that people already understand and use, so it is not jarring to their systems. It's consistent with other experiences, especially successful ones.

Congruent: It's in line with the future direction of the team or company; it 'fits' with where other efforts are heading anyway. It doesn't require people to rethink their priorities or pathways, even though, of course, it changes things.

Ego Building; Simply makes everyone look good. Enough said.

These key qualifiers leave plenty of room to promote revolutionary ideas under cover of evolutionary change. Remember, to find and grow a market for anything means tucking ideas in close to what users can adopt easily and then leading them to the next phase.

We work on crafting this type of approach in the Leaders Summit If you want to explore just how likely to succeed your change ideas are, give me a call. Maybe I can help you get voted in this year!