A year ago, I had the realization that there was something I wasn't seeing in my work as an organizational change professional. With 7 years of change management experience under my belt, here I was supporting another change and for the second time in my career, a part of this transformational change implementation wasn't going smoothly. It was clear that several months of rework would be required to achieve the results we sought. It was frustrating, and it was time to figure out what I wasn't seeing so as not to make this same mistake blindly again.
I knew I needed help from people with more experience. I had learned about Being First and their 4Sight program for advanced change leadership years before at the Association of Change Management Professionals conference. I intuitively knew these were the right people with the right experience in transformational change to help me further develop my change consulting abilities.
I attended the 4Sight 5-month program earlier this year with other incredible individuals from around the globe. The learnings were so rich and more than I anticipated. Well worth my time and resources, the top learnings I walked away with were exactly what I was looking for:
1) I can now see why we constantly do rework in change projects.
First, there is the healthy type of rework. For example, when an initiative is moving along smoothly and there is a course correction identified that determines a better direction to move towards. By definition, these are expected in any transformational change and are to be celebrated as making progress towards the vision. Then there is rework that results from the project leaders not being clear on desired outcomes, the change required to achieve them, the type and scope of change being implementing, and uninformed assumptions that the initiative will not have significant downstream impacts, especially on stakeholders. This lack of awareness and preparation tends to be the result of our action-focused corporate culture. Get right to the action of designing and implementing the solution before we--especially leadership--understand the impacts on the organization and the level of work required to achieve the outcome. This is where the bulk of the work is in transformational change -- preparing leadership and the project community so the foundation for success is in place. Doing this upfront work creates the greater possibility that we might just get it right the first time.
2) I can now see that anything missed will show up in the change process downstream.
One of the beautiful things about the Being First change process is that what is missed in the preparation and impact assessment will keep surfacing until you pay attention to it. As a change consultant, we just need to be present, listen and when appropriate, act on what we see or sense if needed. Pay attention to that one loud voice in the project that keeps asking about the same thing, such as project team members struggling to generate a design solution because they don't have the right design requirements and conditions outlined, or when you hear the immediate response "There isn't an impact to our stakeholders" without any consideration being given. All of these are indicators that something may have been missed or is a hint to pay attention and revisit.
3) I can see that being grounded isn't enough.
As a consultant, we need to be at our best with our clients. I always thought that meant be prepared, be grounded and ask the right questions. I was missing a key part in that formula -- being centered. So what is the difference? For me, being grounded helps me weather storms like a tree with strong trunk and deep roots. I am still standing after the storm with my public persona in place and unscathed. What I didn't know was how to always return to find the confident and competent consultant I am after the storm passed. My ego would beat me up and spend time convincing me that I failed or needed to do better next time. I needed a reference point to always come back to -- before, during and after the storm. That reference point is my center, my internal substantial self that is whole regardless of the situation. My roots will hold me in place so I don't fall over but now that I have found it, my center gives me a place to return home to and move forward from with a knowing that I can face future storms no matter their size. This personal insight was very powerful for me.
Each person who attends the 4Sight program walks away with many learnings and not necessarily all the same. This is just glimpse of what I can see now, that wasn't clear before. It has made a huge difference for me!
Leslie Crain, Strategic Change Consultant, 4Sight Graduate