Change Starts One Step Forward

Every journey of 10,000 miles begins with a single step – Lao Tsu

The vision of the future is dazzling. It arrives from on high as if delivered by parcel delivery drones, endorsed by gurus and acclaimed by cheerleaders of the future.

Everyone is captivated by the insight of the strategy, the incredible new technology, the uplifting rhetoric of the new corporate behaviours and the breathtaking audacity of the new organisational structure.

Then you stop. Reality hits. The vision needs to be executed.

You turn around. Oddly all the drones, the gurus and the cheerleaders have disappeared.  The new plan still needs to be implemented. You turn over a few rocks and it appears nobody has done what you need to do before. You need new capabilities that nobody has. A grumbling begins that people never believed in the high flown vision in the first place. Senior management are disappointed at the progress made on the ideas that they only just dreamed up.

The greatest breakdown in management is between thought and action.

You could start action for action’s sake. Announce a radical transformation, a wrenching restructure or a bold acquisition if you have that kind of power. Even if radical changes were possible, those kinds of change fail more often than not.  All that boldness might just be a distraction from real action to create change.

If you are somewhere in the middle, there is only one choice:

Take one step forward.  

Pick the step that makes most sense to move closer to the vision.  Something you can do. Something practical and possible. Something that builds capability to do more. There is always something. Do it.

After that step you do another.  You gain momentum.  Might not be exciting at first, but it is progress.  Eventually you will meet the drones, the cheerleaders and the gurus down the path.  They might just be surprised to see you because they understand the difference between thought and action.

Take the advice of an ancient Chinese master. Move forward into change one step at a time.

The best first step is the one right in front of you.

Susan Scrupski, Harold Jarche and I will be discussing the practical steps to move forward with collaboration in the first Change Agents Worldwide webinar, in partnership with Socialcast VMware

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