When we hear that a change is coming, it feels like another avalanche in a series of avalanches. Change means that we’ll be doing something in addition to what we were doing before – and nothing gets taken subtracted. Change after change, addition after addition, too much piles up and we become resistant, complacent or outright defiant.
Making room for change is the most important step in the implementation process.
When my schedule is overly full, I will not commit time and energy to change. I’m too busy doing what I have already committed to do, or what I perceive is most important for me to do.
Meaningfully subtracting things from the to-do lists or from our standard work processes makes room for change.
Four ways to meaningfully subtract, and make room for change:
- Automation: Use this when tasks are repetitive, and technology is already involved.
- Create inbox rules for sorting email messages
- If you wrote a long email that helped solve a common question or problem, store the email somewhere that it can be used as an FAQ and found by others seeking the same solution.
- Use a platform like IFTTT.com or Zapier.com to streamline tasks.
- Delegation: Use this when you have a protégé, assistant or student worker who needs to shine
- Give over responsibility for tasks that do not necessarily need your expertise or approval for completion
- Train your protégé to meet your level of personal expectation in something that has lost its luster for you, but you are responsible for that
- Saying No: Use this when you have the political capacity to stand your ground
- Retire a program or offering that no longer gives you the bang for your buck that it used to
- Transform how that older program is offered, so you can say no to the old way it was offered and yes to the new way it is offered (that will allow you more time)
- Postponing: Use this when you can ask for a seasonal reprieve
- Decide that you will only be doing X task during a certain timeframe – and plan how you will communicate in advance to those you serve
- Take a sabbatical from providing a certain program or service – communicate clearly about what you expect to gain from your sabbatical
Ironically, each of these strategies requires doing something different that is not the intended change. Consider it priming the pump for the bigger change.