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Principles to help ensure that change will be successful

Eileen Webb

More than a few years ago, my boyfriend invited me and my sister to go skiing with him and his brother in Lake Tahoe. My sister and I had grown up in Georgia and had never skied before, but he made it sound fun and I wanted to spend time with him, so we made our plans to go.

That first morning, he was teaching us and it was clear that neither of us had a natural talent for skiing. By midday, the only thing I really knew how to do was get up, he had an expensive lift ticket burning a hole on his jacket, and we were frustrated. We talked at lunchtime and decided that my sister and I would take an afternoon lesson and he and his brother would go skiing. By the end of the afternoon, she and I could turn left and right and stop, and I was feeling good about my progress.

The next morning, all of my getting-up muscles were sore (alas, my skiing muscles were fine.) We went to the ski area and the guys went skiing. My sister and I nursed our aches and pains at the ski lodge, but it didn’t take us very long to realize that there isn’t a lot to do in a ski area if you aren’t skiing. By lunchtime, we had talked each other into getting a half-day pass. By the end of the afternoon I was hooked. Years later I became a ski instructor; this is my seventh season as a part-time ski instructor at Heavenly.

Many of the principles of successful change are as much a part of my skiing journey as in other changes in my personal life or those I’ve helped create in the world of work. So whether you are reacting to change that is forced on you or being asked to be a change agent, here are some of the principles I use to create change:

WIIFM: This is everyone’s favorite radio station and is an acronym for “What’s In It For Me?” No one changes until they see that their personal benefit is big enough to be worth doing something about it.

Ownership: Lots of great ideas go nowhere because they don’t have support. People make successful what they help create.

Personal invitation: I will consider anything and try most things, just because someone asks me personally. Most people will.

Feedback: You need to be able to tell what’s working and what isn’t so you can make course changes.

Help from experts: You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Chances are others have faced the same issues you are facing. Learn from their successes (and failures.)

Some additional principles for creating change in an organization:

Ensure that early adopters have successes: If the first people who try something don’t succeed, you won’t get a second chance.

Celebrate and publicize successes and publicly reward people who helped create change: Somehow, the grapevine spreads bad news automatically and effortlessly. Good news needs planned support.

Sponsors and champions: The larger the change and organization, the more important it is to have sponsors and champions for the change.

Change is a part of life whether you choose it or it chooses you. Use these principles to help you create positive change.

Eileen Webb is president of Streamline Consulting Associates and teaches at UNR. Contact her at 888-9890 or by email at ewebb@streamline-consulting.biz.


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