Look forward when implementing change

Maxim #50
Look where you want to go

maxim_50This maxim is another one derived from lessons we learned while trying to race automobiles. When you first start driving cars at high speed, you don’t fully appreciate how much track you cover very quickly. Watching the road directly in front of the car, rather than up ahead to the next corner, is an easy habit to fall into. When you have a professional driver with you to coach you around the track, one of the things you can’t help but notice is how often the pro will tell you to “Get your eyes up: look where you want to go, not where you’re going.”

The reason why this is important is because your car will go where your eyes are looking. Your body and your brain work in a coordinated manner. So, if you are going around a corner at high speed and a wall is approaching, you have to try to avoid fixating on the wall or you will have a tendency to drive towards it, rather than away from it. You have to keep your eyes well ahead and trust that the car will follow where you’re looking. It’s not an innate skill; it’s something you need to learn and practice.

When you are navigating change in an organization, there are also many walls you need to avoid. Here as well, it’s important to keep your eyes on where you’re trying to get. For example, if you are trying to implement a change by a certain time, you first need to consider what is required to achieve that end. There will be both technical and tactical problems that need to be overcome before a change can successfully happen. Here are some of the more common obstacles to consider when implementing changes:

  • Improvement is seen as an indictment of past practices.
  • People directly involved do not see any personal payoff.
  • Management concern about how employees will react.
  • General belief that the real problem lies with other departments.
  • Preference to delay taking action.

You can’t avoid obstacles, but you can manage through them by knowing what and where they are, knowing the course and staying committed to it, and by focusing on where you want to go.