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Timing

The measured success of a project is often linked more to the timing of the assessment than to the delivered benefit. Some change processes will kick in overnight; others might take weeks or months and some large-scale processes might take years to realize a payback for the company. As Senge et al. (1999) stress, don't judge the ultimate success or failure of your efforts based solely on early results. Managers often want to pull up the radishes to see how they are growing and pushing the measuring process can disrupt the delivery of the desired outcome. As such we constantly disregard the importance of time delays in the engagement and assume that we live in a mechanistic society where an input leads to an immediate output. The possibility that we actually live in a complex and dynamic world, where change is unpredictable, is seemingly forgotten in the rush to deliver hard outputs.

Consider a trainer who has been employed to introduce a culture change programme into a medium-sized organization with the goal of improving performance in the customer service department. She decides to run a series of workshops that introduces some new human resource processes, specifically team meetings, appraisal system, upward feedback meetings, etc. The programme is launched in a blaze of publicity, with the active support of the managing director and the board. All goes well until news comes in that the company will be purchasing a smaller competitor in order to rapidly grow its market share. Although the MD and the board believe in the need for a cultural shift in the business, their time begins to be taken up with the acquisition. The result is that many of the people start to doubt the senior team's belief in the changes and stories start to circulate about how the new appraisal system is being abused in some departments.


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