10 Tips for Managing Change (Thanks to the Food Network)

On a recent lazy Saturday, I happened to turn my TV channel to the Food Network and found a marathon of the Spring Baking Championship. For anyone who’s a foodie (like me), loves to cook (like me), but generally detests reality TV (like me)…you can probably relate to the idea that tuning in for 20 minutes seemed sufficient. But – alas – I actually spent a few hours sucked into the world of this reality competition and it made me ponder why this show was so oddly compelling.

I realized quickly enough that this show resonated with so many things I’ve experienced with clients as we partnered together on our change efforts. These were my top 10 reminders:

  1. Aim high, but be realistic. Sometimes lofty goals and big dreams just cannot translate into reality in the time frame you have. Make sure your expectations and your vision align with the amount of time you have to do it effectively, even if it means compromising to end up with the best you can do.
  2. Pacing is everything. Know your milestones and must-haves along the way; watch yourself closely and give yourself an honest appraisal of how things are going (along with enough contingency to avoid jamming it in at the last second).
  3. Diversity counts. This show had amateurs, grandmas, and restaurant owners – plus a variety of people from different regions & styles of cooking. The diversity of perspectives yielded much better solutions than simply having people with similar backgrounds & experiences and each person was inspired by others’ creativity as well.
  4. The best laid plans…are good plans. You have to have a strong, detailed plan from the get-go or you are in serious trouble, especially when your surprise throws you a huge curve ball.
  5. When in doubt, wing it. Don’t spend time you don’t have over-analyzing; find a way to experiment and lean into the tried-and-true.
  6. Know when it’s time to adjust. There were at least 3 chefs whose presentations were epic fails (a cookie that fell apart when touched, a tart that completely fell apart, etc.) Be transparent and willing to admit when things are not going to plan.
  7. Expect a curve ball. I have no idea if the chefs knew ahead of time what the “mystery ingredients” would be in their baskets, but it reminded me that the only thing you can count on happening during the course of your change effort is that something unexpected will happen – and you’ve still got to deliver. The more you build in flexibility, the better you’ll be able to absorb the impact of the unexpected.
  8. Listen to the experts. Sometimes your “experts” are your sponsors and the executive team, but often they are the network of impacted employees who know what will and won’t work from a day-to-day perspective.
  9. There’s only so much multi-tasking you can do before you burn something. Trying to achieve every single outcome in perfect order upon implementation is just unrealistic. Achieving 3 hugely critical goals successfully is much better than halfway hitting 10.
  10. When in doubt, drizzle some chocolate over it (chocolate fixes everything 😉)

Sheri Browning is a Partner at PeopleResults. You can reach her at sbrowning@people-results.com or on Twitter @sbPResults