The second most important thing you can do as a leader is to provide safe spaces for change.
(The first most important thing you can do is model the change yourself).
Find a way to create a safe space – no matter how “high stakes”.
This is where “pilots” come in.
Tiny, quick projects to test the idea.
Pilots perform multiple, essential functions:
- A pilot allows you to see whether the change will work.
- A pilot lets you see where the sticking points will be around within the change
- A pilot creates people who model the behavior and can then spread that behavior among their colleagues.
- A pilot helps you confirm your behavioral reinforcement strategies
Ideally, these pilots are low-stakes.
Don’t let an argumentative, impatient, high-stakes team bulldoze you into making them be your “pilot.”
These teams tend to
- Do things that are central to the operations of the organization
- Have no patience
- Squawk as soon as things “go wrong”
- Spread that discomfort to the rest of the organization
- Derail any future efforts
You will know who these teams are pretty quickly.
Fundamentally, you want your pilot to be a team that is impacted by the change, but any problems that appear do not paralyze the organization.
My best tactic is to explain to the impatient, high-stakes team that we want to do a small pilot so that we minimally impact their critical work. We want to get the majority of the kinks out first. By waiting a short period of time, we save them significant time and energy.
The argument doesn’t always work at first. Find an example from the organization’s history where their impatience made a change more difficult than necessary. Document and share with your project champion and your team.
Find an example from the organization’s history where their impatience made a change more difficult than necessary. Document and share with your project champion and your team. Do your best to cool the high-stakes team’s jets.
Don’t know what law this is, but I found the following to be true:
“The higher the stakes, the more likely things are going to go wrong.”
Your attempts to create a pilot (a safe zone for the change) with a lower stakes team may not work, but at least you have the documentation if things go off the rails.
Resources – Amazon Affiliate Links