It’s funny how what we consider technology has changed so dramatically. Now when we think of cutting edge tech, we think of billionaires heading to space for the thrill of it, or the latest in data analytics and AI. But just a century ago, cutting edge technology was simpler. One such tech was canned food.
Although originally designed almost a century earlier, it only really started to become a cultural and commercial phenomenon in the early 20th century. This was an exciting time – but the market quickly became over-saturated, especially in the production and distribution of tomato-based pasta sauce.
Companies were all obsessed with making a tomato sauce that would satisfy everyone. That was until one company did something different – they stopped trying to meet the entire market with one product and instead created several, niche ones: a spicy one, a sweet one. etc. The result of this strategy? Slowly but surely, this company took market share from their competitors.
There’s a simple lesson in this for us as change leaders.
There’s this strong tendency when creating and driving change initiatives to ‘think big and broad’. When, in doing so, you end up hamstrung by 2 key elements:
1) The Planning Horizon. Put plainly – forecasting the future is harder the further out you get. Planning your actions for tomorrow is much easier and more certain than planning your actions in a month’s time, which is again easier than planning your actions in a year’s time.
2) The ‘Vagueness Tax’. There is an inverse relationship between the amount of money spent on a project and the clarity and usefulness of its scoped inclusions. There’s a ‘vagueness tax’ that’s added in as your change bundles more and more into itself.
So, what can we do?
Well. A number of things.
Here’s your game plan.
- Accept that you don’t know it all.
- Work in small chunks.
- Don’t build the ‘Taj Mahal’. The larger the project, the larger the overhead. Think ‘vision-led mini-portfolio’, rather than ‘multi-year program of work’.
- Ensure everything you do clearly links back to your WHY and Planned Change PROOF.
- Eliminate your Ego from the solution. It’s not needed there.
To Reflect: Comforting Risk Management?
It’s funny – Formal Risk Management is notorious for being dry and boring.
Yet, when you look at what risk management is – it’s trying to create certainty in uncertain environments. Something that we, as humans, so often crave.
So why are risk logs often empty, and risk meetings so often avoided?
Perhaps we humans dislike formal bureaucracy more than we desire certainty?