If you have ever taken on a substantive change or major transformation, you know that such pursuits always almost always invite some resistance and hesitation. If the initiative has been tried and failed before, you have even a bigger challenge on your hand. You might hear the initiative being referred to as another “program of the month,” or be told by someone in the organization that they have “tried that before and it didn’t work.” Needless to say, convincing naysayers to become enthusiastic advocates for change in situations like this can seem like an insurmountable challenge. But there are some things you can do that can help, and I’d like to suggest a few in this post.
Nothing kills the momentum of a new initiative like the folkloric stories of past failed attempts that circulate whenever a leadership team attempts to unveil a transformative vision. This collective memory—usually circulated in hushed, cynical tones behind the scenes—that the organization has of similar initiatives that were introduced with enthusiasm, only to fail to produce any real results in the past, is exactly what ensures that history will repeat itself again. Whether we have labeled an initiative the “program of the month” as an excuse for not getting on board or we have heard the phrase from those who are not as enthusiastic as we are about what we are about to embark on, we know that it could turn into a self-fulling prophecy and slow down progress unless we clarify our messaging.