Business As Usual Eats Change For Breakfast
Today I came across this great quote that is a variation on Peter Drucker’s famous quote:
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
The variation was:
“Business as usual eats change for breakfast.”
When we are talking about design leadership, we are talking about changing things.
Reasons to fall back
It’s not that people are not willing to adopt the designer’s way. I find that a lot of people do, but there can be many reasons to go back:
- It’s just that the old habits can be strong.
- Or they do not know what they could do different, they are not confident enough or don’t have enough knowledge or creativity.
- Or maybe different people get involved that are not familiar with the new ways or are not such fans.
- Sometimes they might think that the new designerly ways are not suited for this particular part of the problem.
- When things get stressed, it’s natural to revert back to doing what you know even if you know it’s not the best way.
- People who are not happy with the shifting power structures and things
donedifferently start to oppose.
The follow up
Creating change is not easy, but sustaining it is even harder. You have to stay alert, keep the big picture in mind, improvise, explain, educate, pivot a little now and then. Most stories I read, and have experienced myself, about failing interventions like Design Sprints are about the follow-up. Methods like the Design Sprint are pretty well engineered en tested and if you follow all the rules, tips and methods, they will produce results. But what you do with those results is quintessential. This will make or break your intervention. If you go back to the old ways after the Sprint has finished, you are not getting the most out of the experience. It can be a kick start to more Lean Startup / Design Thinking / Agile ways of working, doing, thinking. It can be a boot camp for a new way or an incident.
Think like a painter
This week I had this discussion in two different projects. Thinking about how to get from kickstarting change to sustaining it. Thinking about what the obstacles are and what you can do to get over them. Doing a radical intervention seems a good path. This is one of the things I learned while I was studying painting in art school. Sometimes you can make small changes to a painting to get it moving in another direction. But sometimes this is not enough and you have to do something radical like throwing paint at it, painting over a whole area, adding a totally unlogical color. Painters do that all the time. If you look precisely at paintings and understand a little about how they are made, you can see the changes, the interventions. Sometimes these interventions created a whole new school of painting. Sometimes mistakes lead to new innovations. Good painters are not afraid to do something radical, risk something when they are stuck. Business