Thanks to effective change leadership, your project is starting to obtain its initial results. At this point, can you really assume that the project will run like clockwork from now on? No, absolutely not! It is important to maintain momentum to ensure success over the long term.
After several months of hard work, has the time come to congratulate your team on the first tangible results? Perhaps? Is it appropriate to lift off the gas? No way. In effect, you risk falling into a terrible trap: implicitly conveying the message that the hardest times are behind us and that everything will happen automatically from now on. If the sense of urgency fades, progress stops. It has been difficult enough to get everything going – it is absolutely vital, therefore, to maintain progress and even to speed it up.
The first results must encourage those who have taken action and motivate them to continue down this path. They also provide the opportunity to involve new stakeholders, who might previously have held back, so that they can contribute to the process of accelerating change. In the context of collaborative working, you can’t afford to be satisfied with just making a few people collaborate more effectively. Nevertheless, these individuals must serve as an example for everyone else. Implementing a collaborative working solution must reach as many people as possible within the organisation in order to bear fruit.
Let’s be honest: the first results are generally obtained in a specific, unique context, with teams who have no other choice than to work collaboratively, within communities that more or less existed already, and addressing topics that bring together a sufficiently large group of people. However, taking it to the next level means implementing new collaborative working practices. To achieve this, you must take organisational complexity and interdependencies into account. Working as you did before, but with new tools, is not what the change process is about. Changing one thing often means changing everything.
In view of the long list of managers affected by the development of collaborative working practices, it would be a mistake for a single manager to seek to predict and manage all the changes that arise. John Kotter emphasises that directors who step up to the plate must adopt the approach of a leader by presenting their vision and delegating the task of making it a reality. It is vital to avoid drowning in the detail, particularly where there are dozens of other strategic topics to address in parallel. This remains true as you drill down to lower levels of management, where other interested parties must adopt a leadership approach in order to leverage the impact of the vision.
In the context of collaborative working, it takes time for individuals and the wider organisation to reach maturity. It is therefore just the start of a long-term process and, while it is sometimes tempting for a manager to want to organise everything by him or herself to avoid wasting time on dialogue with others, these others are still a necessary part of the process. It is useful to bear in mind this inspirational African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Receive our 8 Step Thematic Guide to Change Management applied to collaborative projects