A couple of weeks ago I wrote a short piece about shifting paradigms and changing a culture. This week I had the opportunity to visit an organization that, three years ago, made a commitment to do exactly that. They engaged with a major university that had a well-researched design component that, if implemented, would significantly change the way they were delivering their services. They provided opportunities for professional learning experiences which would inform and inspire their colleagues, they made everything transparent about why they believed this was important for their future and what steps they intended to take to move the organization forward. This gave those who were more interested in maintaining the status quo an opportunity find another place where they might not have to face the prospects of changing their practice. For those who caught the vision, and who could contribute to the excitement and the energy around the proposed changes, it was a great time to be part of such a group of enlightened people who were willing to take intelligent risks, seek creative solutions to old problems and really make innovation a part of the culture.
I believe that this process of a three to four-year, well-thought out plan not only makes good sense but allows people to see how these changes can be systematically introduced, understood and implemented over time. Meaningful and lasting change usually does not happen overnight. Everyone has a part to play and each person can share with every other person what is important to them, what their needs and challenges are as well as how everyone might benefit from the potential rewards and satisfaction that comes from success. The goals and objectives are clear, the feedback and assessment will be ongoing and looking back over the past three years, everyone can see how far they have come already.
There was palpable excitement about beginning year four. Did everyone share the same high level of enthusiasm? Of course not, because the reality is that out of 100 people you can expect that there will be the proverbial ten percent who are at least skeptical. Sometimes these are the veterans who believe that their way is working fine and there is no pressing need to change. Sometimes there are those who are simply afraid of the unknown. And then there are may be a few who just don’t get it. They don’t understand how this change is such a terrific opportunity not only internally but externally as well in the marketplace where those who might seek their services can see an organization that is truly working together for the common good. Just as important is the genuine and contagious enthusiasm for such a progressive and highly professional program.