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18 Jan

The change project’s most treacherous word


Date: 2012-01-18 10:15 Comments: 0 st

There is a word which is sometimes deceivingly tempting to use.

There we are at the management conference we have every six months to set the course for the six months to come.

It is at the end of the day and we are quite drained after a full day of discussions. We have spoken of what weaknesses the business needs to work on improving and we have concluded that we need to:

  • Keep better track of how the projects progress
  • Listen and tune in more to what is happening in the market
  • Raise the service-level towards our customers
  • Synchronize and check up on our progress more frequently
  • Measure our deliverance-quality more accurately
  •  
  • … and take other similar steps

Beware, don’t say it!

“So, when are we going to do it? And how?”, says the person who happens to be holding the whiteboard-marker at the moment.

It is now the word emerges, as a beckoning temptation. We feel how hungry and exhausted we are. Should we set another deadline? Can we keep track of and handle another project with a due-date in the next coming months? It would be wonderful to just wrap things up and call it a day.

No, we cannot resist it. We utter the words.

“We will do it continuously.”

Ah, that felt good, we have finally made some kind of decision. Now, let’s go to dinner.

I know what it is like, but I have seen too many great initiatives come to nothing due to that we decided to do them “continuously”. The word is a true honey-trap. It sounds as if it means “always” or “frequently”, and when we use it we appear energetic, decisive and committed. But in reality it is more often than not equivalent to “never”.

Another something to remember


Determining that we will start to do something in an ongoing manner, ”continuously”, requires us to constantly remember to do what ever it is we want to do continuously, in addition to all the other things we need to remember on a daily basis. Speaking for myself, I have enough things on my mind as it is. I am in no need for more things to keep track of. And actually, I would prefer not having to keep things on my mind at all, but rather have designated tools and places for this purpose, which are stable and safe from any digital failure.

So the next time you hear a colleague saying “let’s do it continuously” or when you are about to utter the word yourself, beware of the possible ramifications and think again.

Try doing this instead

  • If you wish to accomplish a change of some kind, clearly define concrete activities, events or tasks which you can assign deadlines to (as well as delegate to someone so that they get done).
  • If you want to do things differently from now on (resulting in higher quality, more dialogue between management and project-groups, or being more tuned in to the market), adjust your daily procedures so that they from now on also contain that which you wish to do differently.

So, make the new method of working into the standard way, into what you usually do. One way of doing this is to sketch out what the process looks like today as well as what you wish to add to the current picture, try the new version out, evaluate and then refine. 

Get more done

If you use the word “continuously” with greater caution when you are planning initiatives for change, the number of implemented changes will be far greater than they currently are. The business you are working in will grow and develop faster, and you will feel a greater sense of satisfaction over the more prominent results you accomplish together.

What is your way?

How do you make sure what you decide on doing actually gets done? A penny for your thoughs…

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