A Formula for Successful Change

Here we are at the start of another new year. I’m guessing your Inbox and social media feeds have, like mine, been full of advice about New Year’s Resolutions and creating a brand new you? Good luck with that – ongoing review is a positive choice for us individually as well as for our organisations and our customers. But there are some pitfalls you should know about, if you’re going to see those changes through to the end.

So why is change sometimes so difficult to initiate and sustain? Here’s a thought: You will only be successful initiating change if

  • where you are is uncomfortable enough, or
  • where you could be is sufficiently better.

It’s why so many people get stuck in a rut: if the rut is fur-lined, why take the risk of moving somewhere less comfy on the off-chance?

If you are pioneering some changes this year, here’s a useful way to gauge how successful you’re likely to be.

The four elements* that lead to successful change are said to be…

Clear Vision (CV)
What will things look like after the change has been made?
(We’ll have a dedicated sales team; I’ll be an ex-smoker; I’ll be working locally…)

Pressure for Change (PC)
Is this change needed? What would be the outcome if we didn’t make this change?
(The business needs 35% more turnover or we’re going under; I’ll be able to keep up with my kids at the park; I’ll become increasingly stressed by my daily commute…)

Capacity for Change (CC)
Do we have the right people, skills and tools? Is the will to succeed there?
(The sales team will be commission-funded; my family are right behind me; I have great transferable skills on my CV…)

Actionable First Steps (AFS)
What do we need to get done first?
(Define job roles and terms; talk to my GP; research local agencies and employers…)

CV + PC + CC + AFS = successful change.

When one or more of these elements is missing, things start to wobble…

  • PC + CC + AFS = a fast start that fizzles out
  • CV + CC + AFS = change that’s left way down on the To Do List
  • CV + PC + AFS = anxiety, frustration and unattainable goals
  • CV + PC + CC = lots of false starts that go nowhere

Seem familiar?

Here’s wishing you every success with the changes you will be initiating (or reacting to) this year. But really, stop right now and double check that all four of these bases are covered. It will make the difference between a change achieved and a good intention that fizzled out.

*Adapted from the Formula for Change created by Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher. Refined by Kathleen Dannemiller.

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