I have been using the acrostic DREAMS to walk through the change process and how to navigate change without losing your crew. Up until now, we have looked at D - determine the destination, R - read the river, E - execute excellent leadership, A - All together, M - manage risks.
The final letter is S for Solving Problems.
Once you begin the change process it is inevitable that there will be problems. It might be software bugs, process bottlenecks, unforeseen turnover in staff, etc.
Even though I have been whitewater rafting for years and have extensive experience and rarely have problems, they do occur once in a while.
It was a great morning, I had a great crew but the water was low and I knew Sunshine Falls was ahead.
At low water, there are a series of technical moves that you have to make if you don’t want to become part of the circus act.
The crew and I were waiting in line behind a half dozen rafts. One by one they made their way down. Finally, it was my turn. I negotiated the S-move up top no problem we moved back to the middle hit the hole at the bottom right with too much momentum and bounced off the wall.
I tried to use the momentum to turn a 180 without getting sucked back upstream I was successful except for a thud…
I was stuck!
It’s what the guides call the rotisserie.
I had a second to get everyone to the downstream side of the raft before we were flipped by the current.
We were stuck between two rocks one at the front-end bow and another at the stern.
There was no amount of wiggling that was going to get us unstuck.
I decided to let some air out of my raft and it’s worked only 2 more inches and we were free!
I yelled “everyone hang on” and we spun out and started downstream.
Before I could get the boat straightened out we were pushed hard left over the hemorrhoids rock where we got even more solidly stuck than before.
There was no way out of this one without unloading everything. I explained to the crew what they are going to have to do and one by one they exited the boat with a little dip and someone from shore them up.
Now with the boat several hundred pounds lighter I was able to get off the rock and negotiate through the next maze ending up just a little way downstream where I picked up my crew and continued downriver no worse for the wear.
1. Identify the problem and use tools to solve the problem quickly
I have been involved with projects that get implemented with workaround solutions that are supposed to be temporary but never end up getting corrected. Or the change is made but then over time the process slowly changes back to what it was before.
To prevent that from happening, all problems, glitches, issues etc. need to be documented and prioritized and then the project does not get closed until everything is working as planned.
2. No blame-shifting
It’s easy to get frustrated if things don’t go as planned. I read a story about Pixar losing all of the work on Toy Story 2. A huge technology glitch. Rather than yell at the CTO or firing a bunch of people. The CEO got the team together to discuss the situation. That is when a woman that had been working from home after maternity leave raised her hand and said I think I have a copy on my laptop at home. IT quickly went to her house and made sure they had multiple backups from that point forward. The movie ended up being a great success.
3. Close the project
Once the change has become part of the new culture and is not likely to morph back into the old way of doing things the project can be closed. This is when the final celebration can take place. The team should take a final look at the process and document lessons learned along the way so that others may benefit from their experience.
As my 5-year-old daughter used to say after we would go through Zoom Flume rapid - “Let’s do it again!”
Now that we have made it through the DREAMS process it is time for you to do some dreaming.
What are the things that you would like to do if money was not a constraint?
What ideas does your staff have that could make your organization better?
If you would like to discuss challenges, constraints or upcoming change initiatives, feel free to set up a meeting with me at www.chatwithdwight.com
Dwight Grant is a seasoned businessman with over 30 years of leadership experience. He lives in CO where he enjoys whitewater rafting, mountain biking and spending time with family.