Change is Hard. Why Progressive Improvement BEATS Postponed Perfection.
Written by Jackie Torfin, Partner
I "DO" change leadership. I am a proud change agent. I have led many change initiatives, from Quality Management System updates to Merger and Acquisition teams. I have read the change theories, studied the books, and taken classes. And yet - as complicated as it can be, I always fall back to a straightforward principle when I explain the change process to a leadership team and why progressive improvement and small incremental change can get us to the final destination as fast (and maybe faster) as radical change.
It's as easy as painted walls. Imagine you grew up in a room with green walls. Walls that were there in good times and bad. You had the best day and were safely tucked inside your green walls. You experienced a significant loss, and the green walls were there for it. In every circumstance, you had your green walls.
Now you are being told they need to be blue. There have been meetings, explanations, and rallies around the need for blue walls! YES!!! You want a blue wall. You NEED blue walls - they are the answer to your problems, and once you have the blue walls, everything will be better, stronger, and happier. Let's work together to change our green walls to the perfect shade of blue.
So now the teams are all aligned - and blue walls it is. The team spends weeks or months experimenting with the perfect new shade of blue. The new process, SOP, or system is presented to leadership. And now the walls are a brand new shade - of GREEN. What? How did this happen? Weren't we all aligned on needing blue walls? Yes, we were, but if you've never seen blue and only experienced green, how do you get to blue?
For actual transformational change to occur, you must have a vision of what it will look like when you get there, simply stated - you need to know what blue looks like. If you don't know the color blue, because you have only ever seen green... it's a little tricky. When leadership brings you blue and says - "Here, this is the new color blue, polish it up and make it your own!" and you get it back, and it's no longer blue, but it's just a different shade of green (maybe green -blue!), it shouldn't be surprising.
If my eye gets slowly trained to see more blue and less green, my ability to see the new color improves, and my ability to tolerate and even appreciate it improves too. While leadership can often want to see the blue wall immediately, it's usually easier to get to the final perfect shade with small additions of blue to the green over time. I call this "Progressive Improvement, " It always beats "Postponed Perfection." Because we know change takes time and consistent effort. The process may be frustrating, but with persistence and smaller, less dramatic changes, the walls will eventually turn from some shade of green to a beautiful shade of blue. And in the end, it will be perfect.
If you need help determining how to get to your perfect shade of blue, QRx Partners can help. Contact us at Contact@QRxPartners.com or 833-779-7278.
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