My 115 pound black lab Theo spent most of yesterday re-asserting his dominance among our small pack of dogs in the house (3 dogs, 2500 square feet…don’t ask). He spent the day knocking our new scrappy puppy Bonnie to the floor, growling to keep her in her place, and generally got back to being the “man in the house” (dog-wise at least).
Six months ago he suffered a torn MCL ligament (that’s like a human’s torn ACL: the dreaded letters no athlete wants to hear they have). He had his surgery, was in a cast for a few weeks and then wore one of those silly looking cones to make sure he didn’t infect the area with that incessant licking dogs do after surgery. Well….he got an infection anyway. Antibiotics, another cast, x-rays, a couple of sedative prescriptions (yes, and a few more invoices from the vet) later brings the story up to date.
Today he’s limping a bit and literally “down for the count” (see below for the evidence). Did he push it too hard too fast? How far back has he set his recovery time? Is the cost he’s paying now worth the “Day of Dominance” he enjoyed yesterday?
What’s all this got to do with organizations and change? Plenty.
I work with clients to bring about fast and lasting change. It’s on my business card. This question of “How fast is too fast?” is one I’m always asking. Go too slowly and you risk losing momentum, becoming proof for naysayers that “nothing ever changes around here,” and missing opportunities to get faster returns on what you’ve invested. Go too fast and people end up confused, frustrated and able to create a convincing case for not changing in the future.
Here’s a checklist of questions you can ask to compare the cost you’re paying for the pace of change is worth the return you’re getting:
What prices have you paid:
- Mistakes made because of heavy workloads and time pressures?
- Stress that comes from people feeling over-worked and under-appreciated?
- Conflicts that crop up from people working at cross-purposes to each other?
- Re-doing work that’s begun without enough planning?
What results have you achieved in the past 30 days:
- Measurable progress toward your goals?
- Alignment and commitment in your team?
- Capability you’ve developed in your people and the organization?
- Lessons learned you can apply in the future?
As for Theo and whether he’s satisfied with his investment / return equation? I think he is. Or maybe it’s just me who’s satisfied that it’s my dog that’s back at the top of the pack…