organization change … lessons from the talladega speedway

what a nascar weekend!  carl edwards went flying in the air, on the very last lap of the nascar sprint series race … literally in sight of the finish line.  after flipping over 15 feet in the air, edwards survived!  7 fans were hurt, luckily no one died. 

organization transformation can be like this final lap.  given the numerous moving parts and pieces of an organization and the permutational possibilities amongst them … it is not uncommon for the outcome of two or more changes to collide at high speeds and cause a wreckage.  unlike this race however, some of these collisions can go completely unnoticed … hence not offering an opportunity to literally course-correct and move towards the finish line.   also, watch how the other drivers course correct at high speed with split-second reaction time!

3 obviousideas

a. when you have at least 2 moving parts in a system such as a changing organization, expect some collisions to occur … the laws of physics and statistics might decide to meet and leave a memorable impression.  in fact, if you do not see some creative tension in the system, ask yourself if change is really occuring.  of course, i do not condone destructive conflict under the guise of change.

b. do not jump to conclusions to blame one driver or the other … the unexpected and uintended might decide to meet.  have faith in your change leaders and change agents … and support their right intentions with the right actions.  watch carl edwards jump out of a flaming car and trot towards the finish line.  empower and enable your change agents to leave the wreckage and recover for the next race.

c. reinforce the culture and spirit of change using every crash as a learning opportunity. the nascar system has constantly become better by incorporating lessons learned from such horrible crashes.  the crash barriers worked.  they will only get better.

remember, if it can happen on lap 499 of 500, it can happen anytime!  so, let us fasten our seatbelts and keep our eyes on the road ahead … leading and sustaining change in the world around us.

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