Organizational Change is Like Riding a Bicycle


One of the toughest challenges of projects is managing the change that the project work and deliverables bring about.
There are a lot of similarities between organizational challenges -that emerge from change- and the challenges of riding a bicycle:

1. Expect to fall a couple of times before you get used to it:  Same with new systems and processes; be ready to be clumsy using them.  However, we need to remember that once you learn the new ways, they will bring better results.

2. In the beginning, walking is easier:   Just because we are really good in the old ways of the organization, does not mean we should not change.  We think we are good in the old ways, but that will do us no good if the whole way we are doing business is not fit for the new work environment.

3. In the beginning, walking is faster:  Change helps us do things more professionally, and even if we probably can get short term benefits faster taking shortcuts, however, learning how to do things the right way and professionally will pay off.

4. Doubting our ability to ever do it right: Other bicyclists make riding seem so easy.  Until we try it.  Then we find out it is not as easy as they make it look.  So, we get disappointed and not want to do it anymore.  If you want to master your profession, you need to put in the time to learn how to do things right.

5. We want to break records after the first day of riding: We are used to seeing bicyclists zoom through the finish line and being hailed by the crowds.  However, we do not see the years of hard work and sweat and exercise that precede the events.  Same thing with change.  do not think that organizations who master their work got there without the hard work, the mistakes,

6. Someone running along holding the bike: It is OK to gradually build capacity, by bringing in consultants, trainers, support people, who have the experience, until we are able to do it ourselves.

7. Do not buy race bike from day one: It is OK to get a bike with training wheels, or an easier to ride a bike.  Same thing with organizations, do not rush into using complex tools and processes from day one.  Start with a simplified system, and build up into something more sophisticated as your team gets the hang of it.

8. Get the right size bike: You might want a bike like the one your neighbor has.  However, you might need something higher or a thicker tire, then you need to get that.  Same with organizational change.  Do not borrow another company’s system and assume it will “fit” yours.  Customize your system to fit your needs and requirements and organization.

9. Don’t go off track too soon: Going on rough terrains when you did not get enough training will result in problems.  Same with organizational change.  try to tackle safer, easier projects rather than challenging projects, especially in the beginning, to build momentum and small success.  This will motivate the team and prepare you for bigger more challenging projects.

10.  Try and Try again: Imagine if you stopped trying after falling off the bike for the first time.  No one would have ever learned to ride a bike.  Instead, persevere and be ready to fall off and get back on track several times until you do it right.

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