Change Success Requires Structured Approach

We all want to change something or the other to get some improved outcome. The desired improvement could be in our personal or professional areas. It could be improved performance, reduced travel time, quicker task completion, improved effectiveness of a training session....etc. The list can be endless.
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But do we always get the improvement we desired? Unfortunately no. And I am sure it can't be attributed to our lack of commitment or intent in most occasions. Then why?

Let me share an example to illustrate a typical improvement effort gone wrong!

I was once scheduled to address a group of salespeople of a retail store before the start of the start of their daily work. they had to plan it that way as getting them together during the work hours without affecting sales operations was not practicable at all. So they had planned about 30-45 minutes' session for the sales team. As I had learnt that they have a prayer meeting about 10/15 minutes before store opening, I had suggested them to advance it before start of our session. I thought we could have an uninterrupted interaction till the store actually opened its shutters to allow customers to come in.

Everyone in the group agreed and they began the prayer without any further concern. All of us felt happy that we had made a good decision to use our time better without missing the routine activity either. However, as we were finishing our prayers we saw the shutters were thrown open by the security staff! Store opened before the scheduled time! Customers also started walking in shortly! So our interaction with the team didn't work out the way we would have liked.

Can you see now why we didn't get what we wanted? We didn't take notice of the events immediately following or preceding the event that we tried to change. The security guards over a period of time had developed this habit of opening the store right after the end of the prayer. We didn't share with them that we are changing the routine for a specific purpose.

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So what do we learn? We must communicate the Purpose of an intended change to everyone (It is safer not to think that some people don't need to know and not tell them) and the Change being made, and if it is temporary or permanent in nature. We should also listen to them to to understand the Impact of change on their work and take necessary steps as appropriate too.

Taking time to address these three aspects can be time very well spent as more and more improvement efforts can be successful.

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