Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

You successfully launched an organizational change initiative. You answered questions about what is changing, what will remain as is, and why. You helped people understand how the change will affect them. You collaborated with others to develop and implement a change action plan, and adapted as circumstances evolved. Now you must sustain change momentum.

Sustaining change is about changing habits. Aristotle said it best: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Replacing established habits with new ones takes practice.

Practice can be difficult and time-consuming, which may cause some to resist the need for it. Believing that intellectual understanding is enough, they decide that reading about a new expected behavior or discussing it will enable them to do it well.

As an analogy, think about mastering your golf swing. You can watch lots of golf on TV observing how others swing, or invest hours to better understand what constitutes the most effective technique. You can learn exactly what the best swing should look like. But until you try to do it, and discover how it feels to synchronize your arms, legs, back and head to consistently drive the ball, your swing will never improve. You can learn all there is to know about a productive golf swing and not be able to drive the ball in a straight line with any distance.

That’s the difference between intellectual understanding and skill development, between learning and doing.

Practice is the bridge between learning and doing. To sustain change momentum, people must remain engaged in the change process. They need an opportunity to practice new behaviors and develop new skills. This might be accomplished via a process improvement effort or the development of a new offering that needs their knowledge and expertise to succeed. It involves a commitment by each individual to go beyond their functional responsibilities, to contributing energy, time and experience in a change initiative that strengthens the company going forward. Sustaining change takes practice.

The change becomes real when it comes to life, when you see it in action. Then, the story sharing can begin and the organization’s culture can progress as everyone involved discovers how they make a difference for their organization.

How are you using practice to drive and sustain change?
How are you keeping your people engaged in the change effort?