Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. - Walt Disney

The quote above is one of my favorites and embodies one of my core tenants and beliefs. Change is going to happen. As leaders one of our roles is to usher change into an organization be it through technology, process, the people we hire or by our actions and our inactions. Change is how we leave our mark on an organization.

When approaching an opportunity to effect change, I tend to sketch out answers to the following questions:

  • Why do we need to improve?
  • Why are we doing what we are doing today?
  • What is the desired outcome/end state?
  • What is the business benefit of the change?
  • What are the likely roadblocks?

This allows me to know why and where we are in the position we are in today and why and where I want us to be in the future. The how is missing. It’s missing because it’s easy to get lost in the how.  Once I know the direction then I can start thinking of “how we get there”.  This also allows me to involve others without having created a path and therefore not tainting their thoughts with my own. It also gives others the ability to embrace the change as their own, and they now have a stake in its success.

The preference should always be given to building consensus and buy-in when implementing change.  This does not mean you seek permission, but you lead others to your position and shared ownership of the change emerges. The alternative is to affect change by dictatorial fiat, and while your change may be implemented you will be the first under the bus if anything goes wrong.