It’s that time of year. For many organizations, it’s the finish of the old year and the start of a new one. It’s a time when we put so much behind us, developing plans for a new and better year. New goals, new programs, new initiatives, new systems and tools, maybe some new products.
It’s a great time, not only for organizations, but for each of us as professionals, to reflect and think about change. What worked in the past 12 months, what didn’t? What skills should we develop to stay at the front of our profession and to more effectively serve our customers? We know our goals are likely to increase, so what do we need to do differently to ratchet up our performance to more effectively achieve our goals?
It’s always an exciting time for me, talking to individuals and organizations. Where 3 months ago, they may have been struggling looking to hit the numbers, now they look forward, excited about new challenges and fresh ideas. It seems the front end of “change” is always filled with optimism and energy. I participate in a lot of Sales Kick-off meetings. They’re always filled with energy and excitement about the new ideas and fresh start.
In 6-8 weeks, however, it’s different. The luster of new and different has worn off. We are caught up in the day to day routine–perhaps slipping back into bad habits we thought we had rid ourselves of. Often, struggling with all the great new stuff that we were so excited about just weeks ago.
Often, it’s the reality of making the new ideas, programs, and initiatives work. Beforehand, they made so much sense, they looked so easy. Now after a few weeks, we start seeing the early signs of the tough work required to put ideas into practice.
It’s this moment where we see so many great change efforts start to founder and fail. We start second guessing ourselves, did we have the right ideas? Did we have the right plans?
It’s, also, at this moment the “shiny new object” syndrome starts kicking in. We have newer ideas, newer initiatives, newer programs. Our attention shifts to those. After all, we’re struggling with the last round of new programs and initiatives.
We, organizationally and individually, are tempted to abandon what we’ve started and jump to something new.
The problem is we haven’t learned from what we just started. We haven’t really executed the programs or initiatives, learning what works, what doesn’t, or why. We haven’t tuned or adjusted the programs based on our experience. We haven’t learned how to improve them–or how to improve our execution. We don’t know if we may have been on the cusp of something great, or just had a great, but unworkable idea.
The front part of change is always the easiest part. If we do it right, it’s the part where we get everyone enrolled, motivated, and energized. That’s what happens every new year, in all sales kick off meetings. We’re pretty good at the front end of change.
It’s the middle where we struggle, but this is the part that counts. It’s in the middle and end where we produce results. All the front end stuff is dreams. It’s in the execution, in putting ideas into practice that we learn, adjust, tune, learn, adjust, tune.
So as we enter the new year, excited about new programs, initiatives, strategies and ideas; let’s not lose sight the tough work is in front of us–making it happen. Let’s recognize that new programs, ideas, initiatives and strategies produce nothing until executed. Let’s recognize it’s in the execution where we really learn, improve and produce results.
Let’s have the courage, individually and organizationally, to stick it out. To stay true to our dreams and goals, and to do the work to make it happen.