First Steps to Change… making it easy

In my last blog regarding Dannemillar’s change equation I described vision and the need for this to be meaningful to your team…

“can they visualise themselves in the future state? If not, your carefully crafted vision is nothing but a soundbite”.


This week, I’ve been thinking about how we ensure that vision has some tangible ‘first steps’.   It’s the component of the change equation that takes the vision from ‘statement of intent’ to ‘actionable road map’.

The first step needs to be:

  1. Clear – verbally and visually. What is it that you are asking me to do? by when? can it be seen and personally interpreted?
  2. Easy – it it within my skill set to take this step?  Do I have the tools and resources (physical or emotional) to take this step?
  3. Obviously linked to the positive future – can I see the link between this step and the future state?
  4. The right size – is it within my physical, technical and emotional capacity. Dare I take this step, if its to big and somewhat risky I prefer to stay here in my perceived safety of what I know
  5. Consequential … with an appropriate level of support and follow up to ensure I have taken it (and clear consequences of taking or not taking it!)

Looking to lessons from sporting leaders… when Saracens determined a new focus and new values (humility, discipline, workrate, honesty), they deliberately over indexed on defining the tiny actions and interactions that would signal the shift towards the Vision.   They want so far as to define that players and staff greeted each other every day (with a handshake, hug or fistbump).  While this was natural to some, for others, leaders and coaches had to role model, encourage, reinforce and question when they saw or didn’t see the First Step in action.

This level of intentional reinforcement may feel contrived.. some have even said ‘false’… but if your intent in the vision is true, ensuring that every individual plays their necessary part in the journey towards that vision is the only route to sustainable success.  Suggesting that your culture change is ‘optional’ simply doesn’t make sense.

Too often organisations spend time and resources ‘launching’ the vision .. with dry ice, stirring music, video clips from Braveheart etc… but forget to help the teams and individuals on the journey to that vision with a clarity around that simple and accessible First Step


by Kurt Lindley

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