The Real Reason Teams Don’t Innovate

If you read last week’s newsletter, you know that my family just moved.  

 And I can say that the struggle is real. 😉

There are the big things, like leaving our community (two miles is a lot in New York City).  And there are good things, like a cornucopia of restaurants to discover.

Even though I knew, intellectually, that it would be “the little things” somehow it’s still a surprise. Having to discover a new morning walk. Not knowing where the cleaning fluids are. Not being able to order my salad online, head out to grab two grocery items, drop business correspondence in the mailbox and return home, salad in hand, all in under 20 minutes.

This experience of moving has me thinking about why change is really so hard — our brains are wired to create routines. Normally that’s a good thing. We don’t have to spend so much energy on decisions, so we are more efficient and productive.

In reality, it’s the breaking small routines that can leave you feeling like your vision has stepped into quicksand. If you lead a team, suddenly there is a huge drag behind you. Some people have agreed, but others may not have. And even when people agree in principle, they keep looking for the chopping knife in the drawer even though now there is a cool magnetic knife holder on the wall (you get what I mean).

So how do you change peoples’ actions so that they align with the new vision? One place to look is Kotter’s 8 steps for leading change

·         Create a sense of urgency. This means you have to sell your idea

·         Build a guiding coalition.  ie-Don’t go it alone. Make sure a few key influencers are with you.

·         Form a strategic vision. Repeat it frequently and show how you are making progress towards the vision, because commitment will stumble

·         Enlist a volunteer army.  Find your believers so they can influence others

·         Generate short-term wins. So that people feel encouraged

·         Sustain acceleration.  Once the change has begun, see what has emerged and keep your foot on the gas

·         Institute change.  Here, enlist the detail and process people to make sure process (routines) align and don’t create drag

A couple of things I would add are to be there for your team. Listen when they express concerns or hesitation. Make sure your volunteer army is listening too. Focus on gratitude, especially when you’re in the part where you’re out at sea and can’t see either shore. And watch out for the voice of the saboteur. Nothing triggers the inner critic like change.

And most of all, take care of yourself.  These last few weeks I’ve had to manage my kids’ discomfort and frustration in addition to my own. When I’m rested and feeling good, I can see it for what it is and respond with more perspective and ease.
If you’re wanting to bring change to your team, reach out to set up a time to talk.
All my best,
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