Do You Hear the Music?
That which cannot be monitored or controlled will eventually have drastic consequences upon the bottom line. Business environments are constantly challenged with varying influence factors and the required investment to adjust the organization appropriately. As with any change management effort, the more people know about what is occurring, the less likely they are to be severed at the waist. No one wants to be the young girl who goes skinny dipping in the ocean only to be seized by an unseen force that thrashes her around before dragging her below the surface.
“Not like going down the pond chasin’ bluegills and tommycods”
The classic fear perpetrated by the blockbuster movie Jaws also represents the common attitude towards change within business today. Only after there has been significant carnage do businesses direct sufficient attention and investment to address problems that hold significant value to stakeholders alike. As the hero shark hunter Mr. Quint famously scratched his finger nails on the chalk board to get the local council’s attention, effective change agents must look for
dramatic and effective visual representations to paint a clear picture for the business audience. Without securing the right level of investment and resource capabilities, you will end up needing to return to dock.
“You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat”
The classic quote by Dwight D. Eisenhower – “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything” – demonstrates the attitude each angler had when gearing up for the fishing trip. The shark expert Mr. Hooper relied on scientific instruments, a shark cage and various tracking devices. Chief Brody (who chartered the expedition) had little to no plan, and as such all he brought was his revolver. Mr. Quint had his true and tested rifle and buoys. As we engage change within the business environment, we all bring our tool box of knowledge and skills believing we have the best mouse trap. The real value in our ability to succeed as change agents has even more to do with our flexibility to adapt when we learn our approach fails to land the shark. The ability to adapt and overcome is the single most important behavior which requires more guts than skill.
Be Ready to Get Into the Water
Leading change engagements requires an unconditional commitment and courage to attain success. The collective team failed to float the shark with few options and a sinking boat. There will always be doubters as when Mr. Quint questions Mr. Hooper; “You go inside the cage? Cage goes in the water? You go in the water? Shark’s in the water? Our shark?” and begins singing a seadog farewell song. Everywhere you look in business today sharks swim around our investments, projects and careers, and sadly it is also the case that we sometimes have shipmates on board scheming for the opportunity to sing seadog farewell songs. It is the ability to get into the cage and continue the fight or fall to the inevitable death in the sinking boat.
Losing Fisherman Along the Way
The bigger the challenge the larger the investment and the number of crew required to land the fish. As we begin our project charters in safe waters, it is imperative to be prepared to lose support along the way. It is how we react to change within the change engagements that sustain the momentum and drive to succeed. Stakeholder, managers and delivery resources must be prepared to step into other roles and responsibilities. The hero Chief Brady faced the implied loss of Mr. Hooper and all too real death of Mr. Quint. What was so impressive was the unflinching focus to push on and battle until the end. All too often, businesses fail to finish the fight leaving change initiatives incomplete resulting in limited adoption or realization of the expected value to the bottom line.
When the stakes are high and change agents face success or failure, those with cool heads will prevail. As in the movies, our heroes never run out of bullets. The opportunity to succeed is presented only after the difficult choices and obstacles have been overcome. Rest assured, the boat will not sink leaving you a clean shot as long as you continue to aim for the prize. When success is achieved, colleagues and supporters alike will come out to share in the glory. Hopefully they will help you swim back to shore.