Defying the odds

I had a great time in Melbourne last week running a workshop as part of an Ark Group conference on change management in the public sector. The topic sounds dry, but it was a long way from that.

My session was about defying the odds: looking at some principles and strategies to help bring about positive change, when the stats paint such a dismal picture of the failure rate of many change projects. When it came down to it, everyone really wanted to share their stories and brainstorm some ideas about what they could do to help achieve change in their organisation.

I was struck anew by the incredible differences between organisations' cultures and that no two change projects are the same - yet how amazingly similar everyone's issues were. Most related to unrealistic expectations from organisational leaders, a lack of buy-in from those most affected, and a general reluctance in the organisation to consider the impact of the change on people.

Trying to drive a change project when the odds are stacked against you can be a daunting and thankless task. If you're in that boat, seek out networking opportunities with others in similar positions. It's amazing the creativity that comes out when a couple of people with similar issues start brainstorming.

Being clear about what's achievable also helps you set boundaries in your organisation about what you will and won't do in the name of change - and that just might help your project in the long run.