Here's the dirty little secret we don't read about often enough in business books. You know all of those success stories you just read about? The ones where gritty teams who applied the tools and techniques that I, the sagely author, have come just short of promising will guarantee you fame, fortune, eternal purpose, and the realization of all your wildest dreams?
That's not exactly the whole story. When we read a neat and tidy summary of how this plucky manager or that well-oiled team beat the odds and sailed smoothly to victory thanks to one or two good decisions and deep devotion to a 90-day sprint and waitlist, it implies that “change” is an orderly, predictable annual or quarterly occurrence. We see a change on the horizon. We develop a plan to inspire the necessary changes in our people. We kick off the plan. We revisit it every quarter to make touch-ups around the edges. Then at the end of the year—because change of course is constant—we start working on another plan. Schematically, that idyllic fantasy looks something like Figure 8.1.
Problem is that change is like breathing. Neither one is a project that can be managed to completion.
In reality, every single one of the heroic teams in those earlier stories had to do a complete reevaluation of priorities within three months of making their initial change ...