That doyenne of management theory Rosabeth Moss Kanter wrote that “every success feels like a failure in the middle”.
This seems like an honest truth that in this period of tumultuous change we would do well to acknowledge. Starting change - big or small, involves having a problem that demands a response. With energy and skill, a solution can be launched and as folk often like leadership, actions can be arranged, decisions made and enthusiasm found.
In Tri-borough land we found, somewhat perversely, that moving swiftly with HR processes was the best thing we did. Well done is quickly done, as Tim Ahern, one of my wise Councillors, said. The new teams formed and they were keen.
But then, as the second shift of change management clocks in, the initial enthusiasm can wane. The inevitable tales of sub-optimal communication, managerial clumsiness and frustrated hopes can be exchanged too often and confidence in ‘the project’ can falter. Now is the time to re-visit the purpose of change; allow for expression of anxieties, acknowledge the bereavement that comes from letting go of the familiar and ensure visible celebrations of pro-change behaviours.
It is best to keep eyes on the horizon, visioning the storm being over and things settling into the ‘new’ normal. Except this is often an unattainable ideal. As governments across the world are finding, people will make sacrifices, but only for so long and only for a good reason. We all want to take a breather. Whether on the treadmill or in the office, no-one can flog themselves for ever. So even if the change agenda seems to be unrelenting and continuous we do well to name the end of chapters.
In Tri-borough land we have named the end of the beginning. We have drawn breath before we move into “performing” and then, no doubt, changing again to respect future demands. But innovation cannot always be innovative. It needs to become the usual. Remember email was once just innovation.
Derek Myers, joint chief executive of Hammersmith & Fulham LBC and Kensington & Chelsea RBC