Change is Messy…..Your Business Is Not A Project

I like process. I like order. I like predictability. However, I have learned that managing change is messy.

Dave Wieneke reminded me of this again yesterday while I attended his presentation called “The 7 deadly sins of business innovation”. Among other great insights, Dave reminded the audience that “your business is not a project, so don’t manage it that way”. (Learn more about Dave on his website )

In most corporate America environments, we try to manage most things like a project. Initiatives have kick-offs, due dates, budgets and “SLT” sign off. We have detailed Excel docs with deliverables and owners. Before we approve something new, we must first review a business plan with a ROI.

All of this process can be a good thing, as long as we balance it with time to be messy.

  • We need to schedule meetings that include enough time to talk through ideas and concepts without worryinChange Is Messy - Image Courtesy Of Salvatore Vuonog about the next 10 agenda items.
  • We need to allow employees to test things that could go wrong, and if they do go wrong treat the situation as a learning experience, not a fatal error.
  • We need to be OK with the occasional presentation or idea that is not fully baked yet. Humans don’t always have time to do their homework.
  • Veering from “the plan” is sometimes OK.
  • As we drive business change we must balance the detail view with a balcony view. From 10,000 feet you can best observe the change happening over time. We can “see the forest for the trees”.

Your business is not a project, so let’s adjust how we manage to allow time to be messy.

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About Marci Reynolds