Commit to Making it Work

Yesterday, I was reminded of something I learnt when on project in the Middle East. I was fortunate to be part of a massive change effort where we helping bring together 3 companies. As it is the case with change, there is always a lot of chaos and chaos is always stressful. Never mind chaos that is certain to last atleast a year.

One of the steps we took was to build a ‘toolkit’ for the process. This was not to meant to be a process manual but more as a guide for the leader of (huge) groups that were undergoing the change. And here is where I came in – to help with the building of the toolkit and to assist a wiser head. We spent a couple of months building this tool. It took a lot of effort to ensure most tiny details were in place – every sentence in the package had been read, re-read and agonized over. And soon, it was ready for it’s users.

I still remember sitting in the meeting with our overall leader, a very inspirational and insightful person. The first thing he said was something to the likes of – ‘Here is the toolkit you guys have been waiting for. Before you get it however, I need you to commit to making it work. This means no change suggestions until you have used it atleast a couple of times.’

I found that an odd starting thought but very soon, I realized the significance. As soon as members of the team received it, they had a thousand ideas on little things that could be changed. A few made sense but the remaining didn’t as they had been agonized over and we had consciously decided against it. Thank god they committed to making it work!

I learnt something very significant that day. When we see something that that has been designed for us, we immediately like to stamp our own authority, our own identity on it. We feel the burning need to customize it so we connect with it emotionally. In the process, we often forget that the creators have probably spent hours thinking if the customizations make sense at all. And besides, once we start using it, we might even see their point of view. All that is irrelevant at the first instance.

It is easy to want to stand out. Learning to fit in first, and then stand out comes with a dose of maturity.

Thanks to that experience as a ‘creator’, two things have happened. These days, I am a lot more patient when I’m handed a new tool. I find myself spending a great deal more time trying to understand why it is the way it is before making a judgment and then, making a change.

And also, I find that I am a lot more patient with those who adopt tools I have created as well for I understand their natural instinct a little better than I did previously.

‘Commit to making it work.’ Very very powerful.