Your innovation or change going astray
You want your innovation or change to be successful. But once past the excitement of your original idea, you’re suddenly confronted with a few challenges. At first they seem small and your initial energy is enough to overcome them easily. You’ve built a nice team, you have enough funds to start a few initiatives and a good-looking plan with some nice targets. But gradually you start noticing that some challenges become real issues and keep dragging on:
- That one division, that promised all the necessary help, is not as keen anymore as it was in the beginning.
- The management team is growing impatient and asking for results (according to your plan), whereas you notice your targets are not built upon the right assumptions,
- Other divisions are openly questioning why they or the company should be funding an initiative that more and more looks like the next big miss.
- The CEO, who appointed you as the change leader starts questioning your approach.
More and more you feel like fighting the establishment. The glorious feeling you had when the CEO told you with a big smile ‘to do whatever it takes to make this happen’ has long gone. That little sentence turned from a blessing into a heavy burden. And you realize that most, if not all, of your supporters are turning their back to you and leaving you and your team to your own devices.
Most change and innovation initiatives end this way. Sadly… Back in the 16th century, Niccolo Macchiaveli explains why in his book ‘The Prince':
There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries … and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.
– Niccolo Machiavelli
If you want success you need participation
By thinking about participation, by thinking about how to involve and engage all stakeholders and start an open relationship with them, the outcome would have been way different. The way you mould the partnerships with the stakeholders is crucial for your success.
The discussions with that one division, the Management team or the CEO need to get to another level in which a participative, positive and collaborative approach is the key. You need to know their objectives, their issues, their concerns and they need to be aware of yours. And not only that: you need to find common ground. So the quality of your discussions needs to be improved. Because you need to clear the ground for a ‘new order of things’.
And yes: this will take time. But you want it to be a success, after all.