Introducing change…

When I worked in financial services we developed a computer simulation that allowed us to share experience of setting up a sales organisation with countries that were about to start the journey. In the simulation we included a genuine memo we had found while researching the exercise. It was from ‘senior management’ saying they could not see any benefit from the money already spent and suggesting the initiative was a failure.

The simulation was widely used reaching over 10 000 staff from 40+ countries and I was astounded by the impact of that simple two-line memo. About 40% of teams abandoned their carefully thought out plans ‘because they were told to do so’. The teams who succeeded were the ones that recognised that change is complex and takes time. Instead of abandoning their plans they went back to the manager explaining what they were doing and setting expectations about when they should expect ‘bottom line’ results. The really smart ones went further and set out the interim stages so management could monitor progress towards the goals.

The lessons apply more broadly and are:

1. All change takes time
2. There is a time lag between making the investment and seeing the results
3. Ensure you manage the expectations up the line and include all those affected by the change, as well as those involved.

These days there is so much change – setting and managing expectations is essential!