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Does Your Change Agility Feel Like Ground Hog’s Day?

Tom O'Shea |

groundhog_day_movie_posterIt feels like we keep re-learning the same lessons every day!  That was the cry from one of my clients a few weeks and it made me think about one of the funnier movies of all time.  Ground Hog’s Day (1993) is a classic comedy with Bill Murray starring as the curmudgeon news weatherman, appropriately named Phil, who begrudgingly travels to Punxsutawney, PA from the big city to film whether the famous groundhog “Punxsutawney Phil” is able to “see his shadow” and thereby make the folklore prediction about the duration of winter.

The main plot has the egotistical Phil discovering how he is actually perceived by others, especially Rita, his attractive producer played by Andie McDowell.  Phil begins to experiment with out-of-character acts of kindness and notices that Rita responds very differently to the “good” Phil.  Due to some strange phenomenon, however, Phil awakes everyday to discover he is reliving the day before … over and over again and all the acts of kindness have been forgotten.

Yes, change is hard – transformation even harder. Just as with Bill Murray, leaders can find it very frustrating to put their best efforts into transformation only to see and feel like nothing is changing and it’s the same old patterns – every day.  We discover many lessons as we go along the transformation highway – and recognize that some of our folks are driving alongside and some of our folks aren’t.  When we get discouraged, it’s time to remember that we must be the CEO – Chief Energy Officer providing the team with continuous and consistent positive energy directed toward our shared vision for success.

The three most important focus areas in building successful transformation involves Clarity, Unity and Agility.  Clarity must be established for the success roadmap for the enterprise and for each component part whether it be functional areas or business units all the way down to individuals.  This usually can’t be done just by one leader so we need to build Unity across the leadership ranks both in terms of the success roadmap but also the operating principles (or rules of engagement as one client likes to call them) for HOW we will work together to be successful.

Change happens in daily increments – are we progressing or staying the same?  The critical mass that comes from UNITY will make that difference – and the speed depends on leadership transferring the energy to the people.  Agility is the accelerator that enables things to operate “better and faster” as the norm.  It is systematic and builds from the first two conditions.  But it will take some time and depending on the extent of transformation needed – it will feel paint drying for a while.  Even in the midst of what seems like slow/no progress – find ways to celebrate the progress you see and recognize that there will be pockets like feel like Ground Hog Days but hopefully fewer and in less significant areas.

Let me know your favorite movie analogy that helps describe what you see at your organization?  Love to hear it.

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