A prescribed path seldom takes you to an uncharted territory.
Walking down a beaten road provides some security and certainty and that is important to an extent. We all live in a competitive world. The problem starts when we get used to only treading along the beaten path. Because wherever it leads you to would be a crowded place.
We need the spirit of exploration as much as we need certainty. We need an open heart willing to surrender to the joy of finding the unknown. We need feet flexible enough to follow the direction of our heart. We need to pursue the joy and find joy in the pursuit. We need to experiment, look for intersections, dig them deeper, with others and share. And then we find the interesting. Then we truly learn.
And it is only when we learn with this sense of exploration that we can create our unique path that others may choose to walk upon, eventually to find their own paths.
The way to remain open to possibilities is to think that there is no path. That the steps you take and celebrating each step along creates a path that is uniquely yours.
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Leaders establish a lofty vision for a large scale change initiative and then strategize to align the team. Sometimes, the team gets over-excited by this grand vision and get stuck. They cannot define a strategy or a plan of action that takes them closer to that grand vision.
Planning for a change is a tricky thing. Vision is broad, actions have to be specific, team needs to remain motivated throughout and uncertainties have to be managed.
Based on personal experience, here are some of the broad strategies that helps when planning and executing a change:
Shorter “plan-do” cycles: Linear planning with long list of activities is almost dead. Long linear plan can bog the team down and doesn’t help in keeping all aligned. Shorter plan-do-feedback cycles help in executing work in smaller chunks and collect data/feedback that can help in further planning.
Keep the plan simple: Every change initiative will face a lot of uncertainties and will get messy at some point. When smallest of details are planned, these uncertainties will throw you out of track. Planning for change has to be simple, with key milestones and broad activities. It gives a lot of space to the team in managing uncertain situations.
Involve team in planning: Simple yet very effective strategy, that ensures buy-in from team and gives them a broader roadmap to execute.
Plan early and often: In long-term change initiatives, constantly planning/re-planning is important. Milestones have to be moved and activities have to be re-prioritized. Review the plan at the end of every sprint and realign team’s focus.
Keep communication clear: When plans change, it is important to keep communication lines clear. Teams and stakeholders need to know the impacts and risks.
I have felt that implementing large scale/strategic changes is like walking through a forest. You know where you want to go, but the road/map to reach there is not clear. This is also true for significant personal change (like switching to a new career, starting a business etc).
The critical part: You need to be constantly on top of your plan, learn and re-align.
The fun part: The quest to find the best route and eventually, if done right, the joy of reaching there!
I simply love the way Guy Kawasaki writes. I have linked to his articles on this blog earlier and every time I read him, I end my reading with some realization, some learning and something more to ruminate upon.
Today, I stumbled upon a great piece he wrote way back in 2006 called “Hindsights” on his blog. While I strongly recommend reading this piece at his blog, here are a few excerpts for those who are running short of time 🙂
“Pursue joy, not happiness. Take my word for it, happiness is temporary and fleeting. Joy, by contrast, is unpredictable. It comes from pursuing interests and passions that do not obviously result in happiness.” –
“My father was a senator in Hawaii. His dream was to be a lawyer, but he only had a high school education. He wanted me to be a lawyer. For him, I went to law school. For me, I quit after two weeks. I view this a terrific validation of my inherent intelligence. And when I quit, neither of my parents were angry. They loved me all just the same.”
“One of the biggest mistakes you can make in life is to accept the known and resist the unknown. You should, in fact, do exactly the opposite: challenge the known and embrace the unknown.”
“You’re learning in a structured, dedicated environment right now. On your parents’ nickel. But don’t confuse school and learning. You can go to school and not learn a thing. You can also learn a tremendous amount without school.”
“Learn to like yourself or change yourself until you can like yourself.”
“Winning is also a means to play again. The unexamined life may not be worth living, but the unlived life is not worth examining.”
“By and large, the older you get, the more you’re going to realize that your parents were right. More and more-until finally, you become your parents. I know you’re all saying, “Yeah, right.” Mark my words.”
Some great hindsights represented with equal profoundness – Isn’t it?