Transformational Change is Hard
Creating transformational change is hard.
If it were easy, I wouldn’t have any clients.
You see, I am hired by companies and leaders when they are in milestone moments of needing change. I make sure they succeed.
Throughout my career, I’ve seen a whole lot of different companies needing transformational change and I’ve seen a whole lot of leaders prove their ineffectiveness with it.
Heck, I’ve been that ineffective leader in the past as well. Here’s one common scenario that I’ve fallen victim to…
I realized that there was something happening in my company that was far past bad. It could’ve been poor communication, a misaligned team, or ineffective sales – the actual problem is irrelevant.
The point is, I knew we needed to change.
So I spent a lot of time creating a fancy presentation with a new mission statement and core values and tactical roadmaps and pictures, charts, and graphs. I felt great about it. I knew without a doubt that it was our key to success.
One day I gathered all the staff together for a meeting and I went through my presentation with all the zeal and emotional wherewithal I could muster.
It was awesome. I nailed it. And when I finished presenting…
<insert cricket sounds>
“Does anybody have any questions?” I asked.
Nope, not even a murmur.
Nary a mumble.
The meeting ended and I breathed a sigh of relief.
“Whew, that’s done,” I said to my confidante. “I think it went well, right?”
I was looking for justification. Because, as far as I was concerned, my work was over. I described the change we needed, I told everybody how it needed to be done and now I expected it to magically happen.
But it didn’t happen. It never does in those scenarios.
Your Job Is Your Comfort Zone
Does the example above sound familiar to you?
Because it’s the prime example of how transformational change fails to succeed.
People just go back to doing their jobs. Their job is in their comfort zone.
Transformational change requires people to live outside of their comfort zone – to do their job differently. It requires people to be in a room full of cookies yet only eat the radishes.
But given the option, the employees are never going to eat the radishes. They aren’t going to opt for discomfort.
Transformational change doesn’t happen by simply telling people to change.
In fact, here is a stunningly insightful napkin drawing of what happens if you believe transformational change will magically occur simply by verbalizing it.
True, meaningful change – the change that requires proverbially eating radishes – doesn’t happen with jumping joys of eagerness.
Transformational change actually includes a dip in productivity and more than a fair share of dismay before catapulting to success. Here is my beautifully intricate drawing of what the process of transformational change normally looks like when done successfully (and drawn on the backside of the napkin in the photo above):