Bob Schultek Author of The Gauntlet

Wherever change energy is initially directed, there will be uncertainty, disruption, fear and discomfort among those who are impacted by the change. As a result, the first reaction to change initiatives is likely to be resistance; once the impact is clarified, advocates emerge who refocus their energy on learning more and seeking a means to contribute. 

Leaders realize that inspiring these change advocates to invest their talent, energy and time is the first critical milestone in the change process. And once the champions have accepted the challenge, they need a channel for their investment. Without promptly identifying this path forward, energy and urgency diminish, creating a drift towards demotivation. 

The channel provides direction and structure for the change initiative to be planned, implemented and monitored for effectiveness. As an example, the channel may be a process improvement initiative. For the leader, the channel provides an organized method to remain actively engaged in the change process, to influence its direction, and to sustain the inspiration that launched it. It offers a way for leaders to practice their skill of driving change

For the champions, in addition to being the focus of their discretionary effort, the channel provides a medium to practice cross-functional collaboration and shared accountability competencies, strengthening confidence when results are produced. 

Each day of practice accelerates the development of new habits necessary to realize the benefits of the change. It enables the change team to leverage what they’ve learned and to serve as models for those who follow; it helps leaders build a culture imbedded with the pursuit of productive change. 

To cultivate such a culture, to embed what has been gained by practicing, the process plan such include short periods of disciplined reflection after each process milestone is achieved. In these moments, having the change team consider what has been learned thus far and how it may be applied going forward builds momentum for the current initiative and enthusiasm for the next one. When results are ultimately produced, the reflection will have reinforced the team’s sense of accomplishment. The results themselves then become energizing because they are purposeful, constructive and meaningful. There is a proven connection between reflection, action and the development of new habits which is a core element of every change initiative

How might you leverage practice and reflection to drive change?
How engaged are you in your change initiatives?