Being Real About Your Power Level
I’m currently working my way through Good Strategy/ Bad Strategy by Harvard-educated strategy expert Richard Rumelt. In the first chapter he notes that good strategy is often about applying relative strength to relative weakness.
It’s a simple concept, and yet so many change leaders seem to ignore it.
Or put another way, as a change leader you have a power profile. Sometimes you have no control over the outcome – and you’re reliant on voluntary adoption and influence techniques. But other times you hold 100% of the authority.
The idea that your approach to change should be the same in both of these situations is a sure path to inefficiency, and is where many change management ‘best practices’ fall short.
The amount of time and effort you put into change influence activities should be proportional to two things:
- The level of power you hold (i.e. how good is the reward you’re offering? – Is it an easier way of doing something? Or is it the reigns to their entire paycheque?)
- The desired level of trust & reputation after the change is done (does it matter if they hold you in a bad light moving forward or not?)
High power and low need for ongoing trust → just push it through.
Low power and high need for ongoing trust → invest in your influence activities deeply. Engage, enlist, understand and sell.
Match your effort to your situation.
A quick note on this: Don’t misunderstand me here, as a change leader you still have a responsibility to reduce the pain involved in the change, no matter your situation. But don’t overcook engagement if you don’t need to. Sometimes you really do hold all the cards.
Another Short Note: Task Caching – A Path To Speed
There’s a beautiful similarity between how our human minds store information and how computers do it. Both systems use caching. For those who aren’t familiar with it, caching is the process of storing data in a temporary storage area for easier retrieval at a near-future date. Then, at some stage, elements of this information is then transferred from short-term into long-term memory. Computers use RAM for this function, while our brains use our prefrontal cortexes.
It’s a simple solution to a fairly complex problem.
It’s also a something that we should be learning from in our organisational efforts. Let’s think about task management for a moment. We change leaders always have more work than we can mentally store and so we usually operate off a list of some sort. Sometimes it’s a project schedule, other times a colour-coordinated work backlog, and often it is just a humble to-do-list.
But what about those little tasks? Those things that cloud our mind, take less than an hour and are usually not worth popping into a formal task management tool? Things like sending an email, making a quick call, sharing a quick document. I’ve found that it’s those tasks that normally slip into the great unknown – never to be seen again.
And that’s where task caching comes in.
Stop expecting your team to remember all these small things. Instead, create an informal storage spot for them. A whiteboard, a digital notepad, etc. – and make it a free for all. The only rule is that it gets wiped every 2 days. The idea is that when your team have moment to take a breath, they go through it and resolve anything small, and log anything large into your longer term task management mechanism.
It’s simple, but hey, all the best things are.
A Question for you: How can you better practice caching to decrease admin effort and increase speed of resolution within your teams?
From task management, to risk & governance – there’s a number of ways that tactical caching can be useful.
And A Quick Note: On Clarity
Uncertainty is the most common reason behind change that sucks. So, if you want to lead a change that people respect – prioritise clarity.