1. Dare to experiment
“We cannot solve our problems with the same mindset that created them.”
Why it matters
A lot of research has been done in this field, both data and empirical experiences point to a direct correlation between leading change efficiency and ROI (Return on investment).
Strangely enough, very few projects follow the simple principles and the best practices for leading change. In my own career, I have followed over 500 projects and only a handful of them use the practices mentioned here. The net effect is that we simply repeat mistakes instead of regaining forward momentum.
We do that because we let fear prevail over courage, and we choose repetition over experimenting and taking risk.
Effective leaders dismantle bureaucracy when it impedes action. And, because leaders know that taking risks involves mistakes and failures, they accept occasional disappointments as opportunities to learn.
How it works
The creative and inspiring leader sees new opportunities and sets up an innovative environment where our thinking changes as experiments.
These leaders challenge themselves and their surroundings to think outside the box, look around corners and find new solutions.
The creative leader does not let himself be buried in facts, but looks for alternative possibilities and opportunities, comes up with new solutions and inspires new business solution models. The creative leader is able to manifest his intentions and create a natural flow around himself and around the tasks to be handled.
It’s the experimental mindset that makes it fly
We often create an innovative and experimental environment when we run “pilots”. In pilots, we see the process as an exploration, and we are “allowed” to fail and learn. We have our focus on where we need to adjust our effort to achieve the highest possible impact/effect.
A common mistake made after a pilot has been successfully completed is to suddenly ditch the experimental mindset to think “now I have the recipe!” and to roll this out as a new standard of excellence across the organization. Suddenly, what made the pilot a success goes out the window! We ignore the importance of context and developing thinking, responsible people.
For example, even if it would be the right approach, you don’t know “the right timing” and “the right steps” to make the change come alive. The standard of excellence should be cultivating an experimental mindset and to give yourself time to experiment and take risks. This is what made the pilot fly, and this is what is required to implement new learnings across the organization.
When we understand the complexity of designing a smooth change process for ourselves, we often come to realize that change happens one by one. The relational connection to each individual is unique and so is the optimal design for effective transformation.
Encourage employees to change and reward those who find the courage and dare to take the risk of failure. You model the way – create standards of excellence and set an example for others to follow. Leaders create opportunities for victory and give directions on where to go and how to get there.
Be a role model
Be active and visible. Talk the walk and walk the talk. Take your own medicine.
Ask employees to take responsibility for their own change plan.
Turn reactive behavior into proactive and creative behavior. Ask them to design and adjust the contents of their individual change plan. Trust that there are many roads to “Rome”.
Always question how the payback of your efforts can be improved
Challenge your autopilot
Ease the lid on your own creativity, spontaneity and abilities for new exciting thinking. Ask yourself, “how do I reward risk taking?” and “how do I handle failures”?