The second secret to create lasting change

Steffan Surdek
26 avril 2021
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There is one single commitment that companies can make that will really step on the accelerator of your transformation. When you think about it for this one, just a sec, I'm finding. This secret is essentially this one thing that you can do, this one commitment that you can make, is to bring transformation in the everyday life of people.

The problem: time

Often what happens is when you think about transformation, when you look at transformation, people see it as this side project. They see this as this thing that they need to do and it's this project. They don't have time to work on that project because they're stuck in their everyday life. What happens is they don't have time to work on this project, and because they don't have time to work on this transformation project, then what happens is the transformation project never happens. That's another way that things die out.

H2: Bring change to the everyday

Steffan:

With one of the teams that I worked with, the return of the kings team, with them what we did is we started, instead of doing, let's say an agile transformation outside as a separate project, we brought it into the everyday how we want it to work instead and we committed to that. We were working with over 200 people in Europe so we had to do it in a way where we were changing in a way that wasn't upsetting them and wasn't shocking them too much. But by the time we were done, we'd completely changed the way that we worked.

Steffan:

We did that by incorporating how we were working, the changes we were trying to do inside our daily lives. You know that you need to improve process x. Well, start improving process x the next time that you're using it. What if you did one thing different in this process? Would it save you time or not?

Steffan:

What's the difference between that and following the existing process and it taking a little bit more time? People see these things as two separate projects that you a lot more time for, when really it's not always true. Sometimes it's about, how do you create a little bit more time to incorporate what you're doing inside your daily cycle so that it becomes simple, it becomes fluid?


H2: Set habits

Steffan:

With my clients, I often encourage them these days. One of the approaches that I use with many of my clients is I talk about creating change in the context of a 90-day plan. What we're talking about at the start is what do we want to do over the year? Then what we're talking about is, okay, knowing we want to do this this year, how does the first 90 days of this look?

Steffan:

Once we know what it is, then we try to do it. But the challenge, and this is what I tell a lot of my clients, the challenge of the first 90 days is not about delivering the 90-day plan and that's where people get confused. I can see it in your eyes too. The challenge of the first 90 days is understanding how you need to incorporate this process and your daily way of working.

Marilyn:

Like setting up habits?

Steffan:

Setting up new habits. Where are you going to talk about the 90-day plan? How are you going to create time to implement some of the things that you want to do? How many things can you take in your 90-day plan? Your first 90 days is about creating these habits and creating this new way of thinking, this new way of working. You're probably going to fail miserably, but it's not about succeeding. It's about learning.

Steffan:

Then in the second plan, you're going to say, well, in the first one, my God did we take way too much? How about we take less this time? What would it mean to take less? Well, maybe we can take this much instead of that much. Oh yeah. Good plan. Having that conversation again.

Steffan:

But if you're always creating the change as the separate project and you're not incorporating it in the madness that you're living every day, you're never going to see the difference that it can make. You're never going to develop the habit and then you know this 90-day plan thing, that's Marilyn's project, that's Steff's project. We don't really need to do that. There's no team commitment.

Steffan:

How many times do you create a vision with your team? You do this nice vision board. This is what we want to be as a team. We had a great afternoon. We had the chips, the pizza, everything was a great day. Two days after, everyone just forgets and no one does anything with that. After a week it's gone, it's gone. We don't even talk about it anymore.

Steffan:

With the return of the kings, we brought the return of the kings. We had a wall, a page on the wall that talked about what is the return of the kings? How are we supposed to act? At one point there was an incident that happened where there was an email that was sent out that shouldn't have been sent out. We were like, "Okay, but thinking about the return of the kings, is that something we really should have done? No. How do we make it go away? How do we address this in a way that the kings would address this, knowing that we made this mistake?" Because kings make mistakes too, but have your guiding principles.

Steffan:

How do you incorporate change in your daily life and make it real every day. Don't make it this side project. Force yourself to create time for it. I work with teams these days that are working on knowledge transfer projects. Doing an internal knowledge transfer project on the team can be as simple as, hey, do you want to work with me this afternoon and we'll work together on the problems I'm working with and I'll explain to you how I'm doing it. Doesn't take me much more time and I'm transferring knowledge to you.

Steffan:

Then it's about how do we free you up so that it's okay for you to spend that afternoon with me. Then it's not this, oh, I need to build this presentation on the side. I don't have the time. It doesn't work.

Marilyn:

They they have to set up a meeting with 50 people who are never available and it becomes a big, complicated thing that you just give up.

Steffan:

Yeah. What is it that we're trying to do? How do we make it manageable? How do we make it something that we're able to work with? If the 90-day plan doesn't move forward, it's okay because it's about the conversation. Why isn't the 90-day plan moving? Well, we never talk about it. Okay, where should we talk about it? And create those discussions. Again, conversation, one of the most important things that's missing in a lot of organizations today.

Marilyn:

Do you feel that another thing that happens is that people, there will often be some negative attitudes? Like oh well, we tried stuff, but it [inaudible 00:46:34] and why would I invest my time in this stuff? Because we know anyways, it's going to fail or whatever.


H2: Make sure you have the people with mindset that fits

Steffan:

There's a few things in what you're saying. I'm going to tie this directly to the current topic. In the current topic, the way that this shows up is that we agreed this is what we want but people are... We agreed we want something and people are acting a different way. Now, how do we encourage the people that are acting a different way to act in the way that we agreed that we wanted to act?

Steffan:

How do I have that conversation when that colleague is difficult? When that colleague isn't easy to talk to? When that colleague may get upset? Insert story here. Sometimes that's another key to transformation. Do you have the right people to do the change that you want to do? Sometimes it means that you need to have hard conversations and let some people go.

Steffan:

I had a conversation once with the CEO of a company and the conversation we had was really, really, really amazing. He told me that he had this employee in this business, and the guy was a rockstar. The guy was amazing and they had a lot of things and brought a lot of value to the business and was really what we call an a player inside the company. Eventually, in this change that they were trying to bring, this person didn't fit anymore.

Steffan:

This person knew that they did not fit anymore but wasn't willing to leave. Wasn't willing to make a mess but wasn't willing to change either. It was in that weird place. The CEO explained to me that what he ended up doing is he ended up spending time with that person and they had a conversation about the fit. He said, "Look, this really isn't working out, but you're amazing and I don't want to fire you. But I can't keep you because you don't want where we want to go. I know this business, this other company. You would probably be the perfect fit. I would love to introduce you to someone there that I know and help you see if you can slide yourself into there. Would you be open to that?" And he helped his employee leave.

I don't know if it was a competitor, to be honest, but he helped his employee leave. Sometimes that's what you have to do. That's the commitment part that we're talking about. I often joke that you know how committed a company actually is to change and to transformation the first time that they run into a problem, when they say they want to transform.

How do they address it? Do they address it the old way or the new way? If they default to the old way, there's a problem. That speaks volumes. If they say, no, no, take more time. We said this is what we wanted to do, then you know they're committed. Then you know this is what they really want.

H2: Conclusion

I think so. It's about the fit. Part of what you were saying too, if we go back to the first secret, it's about the beliefs. Sometimes it's about being able to acknowledge, I know you've been here for a long time. I know you've seen a lot of these things. I know I'm telling you to self-organize and you don't even believe me right now. But guess what? I'm probably going to mess up. I'm probably going to act the old way sometimes and you need to call me on it and you need to tell me. I need to make sure it's okay and we need to be okay with that together and just be there for each other.

Steffan:

And as a leader, that takes courage. It's about recognizing what's there. Either you keep the person or you acknowledge the belief. Sorry, either you acknowledge the belief and see how do I work through this belief? Or sometimes you need to let go of people. But the one thing that you never want to do is you never want to try to be in the position to try to convince people.

Steffan:

Because if you try to put yourself in a position where you're trying to convince people, you can waste a lot of time. Because all of the people need to do is no one word, no. That's all they need to know. You are blue in the face. You almost had me. No, no, not sticking. It ends there. It just ends there.

Steffan:

It's not a trap that you want to be, you want to listen for the needs, you want to listen for the beliefs. You want to make sure they feel heard and address what they're bringing up, but you don't want to convince. Because that's a losing proposition, it's two very different things.