Rhythm of Change

Mark Frasco - President

August 2013 – Throughout our lives we learn the rhythms of the world – the seasons, months, weeks, days and hours. Each passing milestone reminds us of how things change around us; temperatures, plant life, night and day; only if change were so easy in our work, more predictable.

Often, I hear stories from leaders about how difficult it is for them to create or implement meaningful, sustainable change in their organizations or market place. They thoughtfully complete the strategic retreat or write the plan. They schedule a meeting to communicate the plan. When asked, no one raises their voice in disagreement; there were no questions. Yet as the weeks and months march forward, very little change takes place.

Change is a tricky thing – far more complex than the development and communication of the plan itself. In fact, if I were to put a percentage completion on those elements to the ultimate accomplishment of the plan, I’d say the planning and communication piece are less than 20% of what needs to be done, maybe less than 10%.

Failures around organizational strategy and change most often occur on the change piece. Rather you are trying to get your organization to adopt a new focus or trying to get a market to recognize your new approach to adding value, rhythm is the key.

Rhythm? What is he talking about? This isn’t like a jazz band. Or is it? Let me explain. Each member is visible to the other. Eye contact, body language and all the stuff our mother’s taught us about being a good team member are in play. Each member brings their unique talent to the stage. For the most part, they arrive on that stage, do their work on that stage and leave that stage together. You can bet there is improvisation, but as a certain player improvises, others hear and see it in the moment and respond accordingly. All this occurs following certain rhythms that are being laid down by various members in the ensemble.

In organizational speak, not nearly as fun as jazz lingo, we call it collaboration, measurement, transparency and feedback. Got it, so what? This is the punch line, unpopular as it is, almost fanatically resisted in modern day business – the best way I know to create organizational change is to have a management structure that features a rhythm of meetings. Yes, meetings.Oh my, why did I read this? Just what I need is more meetings!

As a leader, if you’re not meeting with your people about performance and change, or meeting with your clients or prospects about the change you’d like them to hire you to create, then what are you doing? If change is slow or doesn’t seem to be the change that you originally designed, create a management structure that features regular interaction between those responsible for making it happen. At COACT, we have Monday Morning Huddles, Daily Standups, Monthly FACT Meetings, Bi-Weekly Strategic Track Meetings – all designed to improve collaboration (buy-in and commitment), transparency (reviewing measurements of progress of results), and feedback (platform for exchange of ideas and course correction, if needed).

The likelihood of realizing the changes you have planned increases as your organizational rhythms improve. In studying performance management, you’ll learn that collaboration, measurement, transparency and regular feedback are core elements. If you intend to improve the effectiveness of your change management efforts, you need to install a meeting rhythm that fosters this activity, improving results.

Tips to create your rhythm of change:

  1. Determine a management rhythm or meeting structure with attention to key performance indicators or expected outcomes that will be discussed
  2. Make these meetings Standing Meetings in your corporate calendar; for instance, every Monday from 8a – 830a
  3. Be sure the right people are in the room
  4. Pay attention to RPM – Review the previous period’s progress and results, Preview the next period’s plan, and Make decisions that will release the team to take action
  5. Keep an Action Journal that will clarify important few items on which action will be taken, by whom and when
  6. Post KPI’s, Action Journals and work to make other information visual to all