And, to develop the metaphor further, they don’t spring up overnight.
It is springtime and the sun is shining here in Camberley. What better theme for my April blog than a springtime analogy?
Spring is the time we associate with spring-cleaning, fresh starts and new growth. It is a great excuse to dust off your service improvement plans and enthuse your teams for change. But does it always work like that? It is tempting to shy away from change for two common beliefs:
"It will never work" and "we’ve tried it before, it will never work".
Unfortunately if you take either position it will be true.
The first one will never work if you have pre-empted the possibility of it working by not attempting it - a self-fulfilling prophecy of course. If you don’t plant seeds nothing will grow.
The second one will never work if you just throw something out there and give up on it because it didn’t deliver. You have to nurture it and wait for it to grow.
The key to success is to start small, very small. Seeds are very small. Identify one thing to change and work on it. But the most important part: be persistent. There is an unwritten law that says that if you try to change the way things are done, everyone involved will gape at you until you stop. They believe that if they keep gaping at you, you will give up. You tried it and it didn’t work, see? You have to stare them out! If you work on the basis that you are not going to blink first your change will eventually become normal.
If you want proof that it works, you only have to glance over your shoulder to see how “normal” has changed:
- Electronic mail? I’ll have to log on to check whether I have messages - that’ll never work.
- Mobile phones? They are the size of a house-brick - that’ll never work.
- Automatic gearboxes on cars …, oh go on, I’ll give you that.
My point really is that you have to keep trying to make changes in the interests of progress. And sometimes you have to be radical, otherwise how will you be at the cutting edge? Just because everyone else resists it doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea, it just means they are comfortable with how they do things now. It is so much easier to say “it will never work” than make the effort of change. But if everyone said that where would we be now?
OK, I know some would argue that email isn’t progress, but that’s a different blog. Go on, plant a seed. But don’t forget to water it.