Change is hard. Change is scary. Change is uncertain. Change is chaos.
And when something is hard, scary, uncertain, and chaotic any human does a cry out - a reach out for help to survive it. It’s often a knee jerk reaction, but a real and fragile reaction all the same.
In that moment - when the fear is high - it’s that moment when it’s most important for the support to stay calm and help them take the first step out of the dark.
Let me explain with 2 recent encounters.
Working with teams recently on some high stakes and long term innovation projects - ideas died. Now, I know that this is natural and we’ll just create new ones. But these folks haven’t seen that movie yet. They haven’t yet seen that innovation is a never ending system, not a one hit wonder. They know in their head that we can start again, but the natural panic of failure sets in when they have to actually kill their idea.
They called me to work together and in the first 5 minutes they had an idea that was way more exciting than the first. Did they need me to create that? No. But being there with them when the bottom fell out and helping them to start again quickly helped them move forward fast...and took all of 10 minutes of my time.
Another team was innovating a new product that required some specifics from someone in their supply chain. But the answers weren’t available via their website. The team started to put it down as an item to address later, but the information they needed was critical for their immediate decisions. They were about to wait another week to get answers because a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy was the one that usually talks to their supplier. As a coach of course I said, “My job here is fast and cheap. A week isn’t fast. Let’s call right now.” We literally called together and got answers that changed the course of the entire initiative. But it took me dialing the phone to start it.
Some of these examples certainly seem silly and small, but they’re real all the same. Folks just need that little added boost. That little push and that little added support when it seems like the safety net is gone.
So as leaders, how can we help them do just that first step?
What can we do to just start them on the right course?
What scary thing are they about to do this week that we can support them in?
What can we do with just 5 minutes to let them know that we have their back and support them?
Because it’s that first time that seems the darkest..and in those darkest moments just the tiniest bit of light can make all the difference to the innovation project.
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