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The Opposite of Brute Force

August 26, 2012

I bet you brushed your teeth and washed your face this morning.  How did that come about?

Your mouth is minty fresh today thanks to years of reinforcement by mom and dad – day after day of monitoring, nagging reminding and correcting while you were growing up.

The Accounting Department needs the same thing.  Good practices don’t come by chance and cannot be instituted overnight.  They are deliberately selected, and then built bit by bit (read: slowly) one on top of another, monitored and tweaked through time.

This is precisely why transformation projects typically fail – too much too soon.  While everything may look good on paper, forcing lots of changes all at once instinctively activates our “fight or flight” response.  That means we start strong.  We get into survival mode, bite the bullet and rise to the challenge.  But after the project is over, the realization sets in that the department lacks the support to sustain these changes.  Then our hard-earned progress back slides and employees become demoralized.

As we go into next year’s planning activities, take care to avoid overambitious undertakings.  In fact, chant this before planning meetings: “2013 is NOT the year that we will finally (insert master plan here).”   Rather, focus on something as small as freeing up the staff for a few hours a month to reflect as a group and make small improvements.

Small ideas are easy to implement, easy to sustain and build massive momentum for bigger changes.

Success, even a small one, is contagious.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Zhang, Summer (AllianzAM) permalink
    August 27, 2012 9:16 am

    Very well written—It is so true that even small change, if implemented, will be such a huge victory. That applies to day to day life too.

  2. John Chuu permalink
    August 30, 2012 5:44 pm

    Nice write up. I agree that large projects typically do not have great success rates due to overwhelming changes which turns people off as they would have to learn and adapt to the new environment. Typically we like to break up the project to mini projects and involve the users in the early phase of the project to start building equity and buy-in from all departments. End users get engaged and start taking ownership of the changes as well as promoting the new platform. Small wins leading to big wins and smiles all around.

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