Accelerating Change Programmes

Seeking the approaches that enable faster change in the complex world of health and social care

Create Pace, Sweat the Small Stuff

Seems that small really is beautiful, small wins that is.

The impact of small wins in change initiatives seems intuitive and evidence suggests it’s positive, but in the past, I always seem to concentrated on the big change stuff. Why? Because the big changes are complex, challenging and need lots of time, the result, small stuff often hasn’t featured much. However, it’s not just me, lots and lots of change programmes concentrate on the big changes through modeling, planning or design work that often takes months. It’s how project and programme managers are trained! The outcome is that people can lose heart, can be daunted by the scale and the programmes can lose momentum and engagementand¬† with stakeholders.

Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to focus on large numbers of smaller changes, rather than focusing on big changes and work that, although important, doesn’t produce tangible change for months. The result has been incredible, not just for credibility but for the pace of the overall work.

The impact of what happened surprised me, in an organisation with significant challenges, the change programme has bucked the general trend of poor relationships with frontline staff and patients, poorly performing change initiatives and became a key part of positive messaging from Executives.

It hasn’t been easy and we’ve learned a lot along the way, both what’s worked and what hasn’t. Key learning has been:

  • stay below the executive radar and let the small changes flourish. Design governance to devolve responsibility to ensure that neither myself nor executives were able to engage directly in these initiatives (see previous blog post on this),
  • communicate the small wins so regularly it feels uncomfortable and make them relevant to each audience,
  • focus on the benefits or outcomes of changes being made, rather than measuring progress through plans,
  • ensure the team understand the different expectations and connections between the longer term work and small wins, so as to reduce confusion,
  • build team capabilities to unlock rapid change in the small wins, for example, coaching the team, teaching prototyping, use sprints (see previous blog),
  • develop a vision early and ensure that it resonates at an operational level, something that people can connect the small wins to.

For me, in addition to the benefits of the actual small wins, engagement has been easier, the pace feels uncomfortable (in the right way!), we have a happier and motivated team, and its been straightforward to gain Board support for the bigger changes. What’s not to like?

A few years ago I thought small changes weren’t challenging and a bit boring, now I’m actively working through how to create them all the time.

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This entry was posted on 19/03/2017 by in accelerators, change and tagged , , , , .
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