Focus on Effort not Difficulty

 Focus on Effort not Difficulty

You know, I’ve occasionally caught myself saying ‘change is hard.’ I’ve recently seen an interesting new insight into the power of language during change or transformation. In an article on HBR.org, Nick Tasler discusses the negative bias we create when reinforcing that change is hard.

For decades, we’ve heard statistics about how infrequently change initiatives and transformation are successful. We hear that 70% of them fail. We hear that 50% of mergers don’t achieve their desired results. In addition, we’ve all had our own experiences with changes that have had varying degrees of success. The message this reinforces is that change must be really hard.

What Tasler argues is that part of the reason change is often not successful is that by saying it is ‘hard’ we are creating a negative bias that impacts the actual outcomes.  He recommends that rather than focusing on the difficulty of change we should focus our messaging and conversations about the effort involved in change.

Let me give you an example. We all know that part of success in any endeavor comes from the effort you put in to it.  Some pursuits are more difficult and require more effort than others. Completing a marathon takes more effort than jogging around the block (although for some of us, they both seem daunting). However, we usually believe something is achievable when we focus on putting in some effort rather than simply focusing on how difficult it is.

At NextBridge, we focus on helping our clients successfully change and transform. We help clients think about the effort needed for successful change and help them achieve it.  I encourage you to think about change that is impacting you. Are you focusing on the difficulty or the effort?

Let’s Lead Change, Not Just Manage It

lead change

Change is a subject that’s near and dear to my heart.  It’s been at the core of what I do for over 25 years.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about the topic of leading change.  We’ve talked for years about managing change but not leading change.

Leading change is different from change management.  Change management is a well thought out set of approaches and tools that supports change, often at a project level.  For example, there is a change management component to installing a new system, transitioning how you do performance management, or introducing a new project. It happens in parallel to the project to make sure the business solution is implemented and that people adopt the new behaviors associated with it. It focuses on understanding the difference between the current state and future state, creating communication and training plans, identifying early adopters and resisters and paving the way for the business outcome to be reached. It is a very important toolkit and competence that should be part of projects that introduce change.

Leading change is about creating and communicating a vision for change and is not directly tied to a project or initiative. It is what drives the business solution, not what implements it. It is transformational. It creates a mindset across the organization that focuses on what could or should be different rather than asking them to simply adopt an already determined solution.  It removes the shackles of how we do things and asks people to truly engage in the change, to become part of creating a solution. It enables others to think differently.  It moves change along more rapidly and more efficiently, even while it creates a sense of upheaval. It is what makes people say “I HAVE to be part of this.” It creates momentum and a desire to continually move to the next phase or next level.

Most executives I talk to and organizations I work with are hungry for change leadership.  What about yours? Do you only manage change or do you truly lead it?