Organizations can’t change if little time or effort is put into the change itself.
Let me tell you a story.
I was twelve years old, and needed money for a new purse. My friend and I decided to put on a roller skating show. Up to this point, I always sold tickets to my plays and other events because I thought they were pretty good, and had very few complaints about the nickel price.
This time I wanted more money, and I wanted it faster. Therefore, my friend and I put on our shoe skates and developed a routine to “California Here I Come.” We lived in California, so we thought this would be an inspiring theme.
Unfortunately, we only spent two hours putting together this routine, and decided we would perform in her garage. We would charge fifteen cents this time since we needed more money. We quickly promoted our show, skating around the neighborhood and letting our friends know that they needed to get in line quickly. To kids today this would seem like a pathetic thing to do on a summer day, but in my day we didn’t have daytime television or video-games. We had long, boring, hot summer days that we had to fill with something.
Anyway, we rounded up eight kids. We let in three of them for the first show since that’s the only number we could allow without physically skating over them. We started our routine with energy, but when it came time for our fast circles during “where powers of flowers bloom in the spring,” both of us fell. We hadn’t practiced. We didn’t have music because we had no time to find a record player, so we sang the song. Of course we forgot the words.
Then I hit the oil spot left on the concrete floor from Mr. Swanson’s car, and down I went with a jar that knocked out my breath and prevented me from singing. The three audience members shook their heads and demanded their money back.
They went outside and told the additional five kids in line that they should skip the show.
Kim and I made no money, and each had to be treated for our injuries.
Organizational change is often the same way. Leaders don’t prepare for the presentation of change; they treat it like another event that can be rolled out quickly with demands of compliance. Their process has not been tested, so when rolled out there are a lot of oil spots and falls. The employees being asked to change shake their heads, no longer believing in it, and view it as another corporate effort that has taken their time for no good reason.
Change has to be well thought-out, tested, and rolled out with clear benefits that others believe. Otherwise, colleagues will want their money back, and leaders will need to go tend to their wounds.
If you want to read more of my change stories: