What do changing the world and the Good Luck Fairy have in common?

To be honest – absolutely nothing.

There are those instances we all know about where someone somewhere who made a change to their “neck of the woods” and was amazingly successful, an overnight wonder, trended on YouTube and twitter and Facebook. In South Africa Mark Shuttleworth comes to mind.

In your neck of the woods you may be working on a project to create efficiencies, improve a product or service, reduce business risk, grow the company market share or rejuvenate technology to sustain service delivery. Nothing magical about that you may say.  Very often it feels like a thankless job. You are in what I call “the trenches of delivery”.

While delivering a change management training programme recently I shared my opinion with the delegates that leading and successfully delivering business change in organisations is probably the toughest role we ever play. And then I read a blog from Seth Godin this week entitled “Sure, but that’s not a plan” which confirmed my view. Seth writes:

“A plan involves steps that are largely under your influence and control. A plan involves the hard and dreary and difficult work of a thousand brave steps, of doing things that might not work, of connecting and caring and bringing generosity when we don’t think we have any more to bring.

When your plan works, take a bow. You earned it.”

A simple change management model:

  1. “A Plan” – you need a minimum of an engagement plan aligned to the project plan
  2. “A thousand brave steps” need to be planned out, and executed even if some are uneven     and trip you up and others are bigger than you think.
  3. “Of doing things that might not work” aligns to having the courage to experiment and try new approaches. And if they don’t work to pick yourself up and try something else.
  4. “Of connecting” is actually what stakeholder engagement is all about. It’s NOT rocket science. You need to create real connection to the real people in the world who will be impacted by the changes you bring with you.
  5. “And caring” reflects the requirement for real empathy for others. You can’t hope to influence or lead meaningful change in organisations you don’t love and respect. If it’s a chore, and you personally really don’t care about the outcome the likelihood of real change is very low.
  6. “and bringing generosity when we don’t think we have any more to bring” relates to being abundant with information, creating opportunities to participate for others, reward and recognition for others, gathering ideas and inputs from others, generous with your time and with listening, listening, listening to others.

And then by all means when your plan works, take a well earned bow. And actually from my experience, when changing the world for the better succeeds the bow at the end is the least important. For me it’s seeing the long term benefits to the real people thriving. There is nothing like it.

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