How to Maintain Commitment to New Initiatives
by Rick Maurer

While some might think that progress is linear --- one thing building on another --- change actually happens in a cycle. Each stage of the cycle builds momentum for the next stage. There is little information about the need for change, just some Random Incidents. Recognition that there is a problem or an opportunity. Energy build as Initial Actions begin. The idea is rolled out during Implementation. The change is Integrated as a way of doing business. The change runs its course and Activity Wanes.

This cycle is adapted with permission from the Cycle of Experience developed at
the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland.

Keeping energy high as changes move through this cycle can be a major challenge. Once we recognize the need for change, energy builds during the Initial Actions stage and we want to get busy and do something right away. But, this initial excitement often wears off and interest and commitment begins to fade before we get to the Integration Stage.

To make sure that the change becomes an integral part of the way your organization does business, momentum must continue to flow and the organization must remain committed to implementing and integrating the idea. While there are no easy answers or quick fixes to do this, the following must be in place to sustain commitment to change:

Leadership: Someone needs to lead the change. This "czar" is given the authority and resources to make the change a reality. While the czar need not be a senior manager, he or she must have clout in the organization and must be an influential player.

Clear Contract: The czar needs to say, "I will lead this change if certain conditions are met," delineating what he or she thinks it will take to be successful. This means that the czar must have a clear contract with the leaders of the organization, identifying specifically what the leaders will do if, and when, the unexpected happens, and what support he or she can expect from them throughout the life of the project.

Beware of "scope creep": Many projects move beyond their initial scope. To help keep things under control, plan for the unexpected up-front by determining what you will do if the scope begins to shift or if conditions change. Unless the situation changes dramatically, it is important to stick to the original plan. If you must deviate from it, do so, consciously and purposefully --- reexamining resources, assignments to the project, and so forth.

Speed: Determine how fast you can begin to implement the change and still get the level of commitment you need. Does everyone need to be trained before implementation? Do all systems have to be in place at the outset? Sometimes, needed changes fail simply because the organization moved too slowly.

Ownership: Make sure that enough people within the organization support the initiative and that they feel a sense of ownership of the change. If you feel you do not have enough commitment and ownership to move beyond the initial enthusiasm for the change into actual implementation, then slow down and concentrate on getting more people on the bandwagon and committed to moving the change forward.


Rick Maurer consults to the leaders in organizations and their teams on how to implement change while paying attention to people. He offers tools to handle change effectively. His books, Building Capacity for Change Sourcebook, Beyond the Wall of Resistance, Caught in the Middle, and The Feedback Toolkit, offer practical tools that enable people to improve management practices. Rick's articles on change and management have appeared in numerous magazines, trade publications and professional journals. Since publication of Beyond the Wall of Resistance, he has appeared on CNBC, NBC Nightly News, and been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, USA Today and IndustryWeek Magazine.

For more information, contact Maurer & Associates via: Phone: 703-525-7074;
Fax: 703-525-0183; e-mail: info@beyondresistance.com , and visit: www.beyondresistance.com/ .

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Copyright 2001 by Rick Maurer. All rights reserved.

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