Thursday, 22 November 2007

The answer to myth 13: Short-term wins are tactical but they do not usually represent real change

Obviously, some people don’t like ‘short wins’. These are usually the same people who do not consider change a valid label unless a big M&Ahas taken place. There is a semantic implication of ‘not-really-serious-change’. The world is rather bipolar here: some people love these short-term wins, others hate them.

Short-term wins are very much welcomed by Viral Change. We have said all along that small changes can lead to a big impact. So it is only natural that short-terms wins, or ‘win-wins, are part of the picture. The difference between the win-win/short-win in Viral Change and the one in conventional management of change is that in the latter, it usually means let’s fix what is small, visible and will make many people happy, a sure-sure bet, doable, sexy, it’s going to be rewarding. In Viral Change mode, small win-wins may be small, visible and will-make-many-people-happy, a sure-sure bet, doable, sexy, it’s going to be rewarding...or it may not be. This is not the judgement to make.

In Viral Change it’s not the easiness of the task that defines the ‘small’ quality. It is perhaps an atomic behaviour that by being reinforced creates a sense of possibility and that - when many of them are visible and ‘available’ - creates a tipping point of significance. There is small and then there is small: two types of small, two types of win-win. The statement above uses the word ‘tactical’ implying that there are strategic things and tactical things. Viral Change does not host that distinction. Apparently tactical things (the wide spread of a simple behaviour) have implications well beyond day-to-day tactics.

If you want to read more about Viral Change, or want to revisit some of the other myths, you can read it all again in my book of the same title: Viral Change: the alternative to slow, painful and unsuccessful management of change in organisations

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