There are different types of priorities during a change process, and I have been thinking recently about how to make them manageable and understandable. For me, it makes sense to think in terms of TWO-FIVE-TEN.
TWO: “The Non-Negotiables”
I believe there is room for two priorities that are non-negotiable. These are the goals that, if not met, should result in abandoning or re-starting the process.
FIVE: “The Critical Ingredients”
There is room for five critical items. The hope is that all five will be largely intact at the end of the process; however, there has to be a recognition from the start that compromise and a kind of horse trading is likely.
TEN: “’The Wouldn’t it be Nice if’ Group”
These are the items that capture other hopes for the initiative. Getting all of them would be like hitting the lottery, getting six of ten would be good news.
Approaching a change initiative this way does several things:
- Creates appropriate and manageable expectations for progress.
- Prevents a business or school from overpromising and under-delivering.
- Positions the people leading the conversation to maintain focus on what is most important. Nothing is more important than the TWO, nothing on the list of TEN should stand in the way of getting as much out of the FIVE as possible.
I set this down here knowing that the muddiness of an actual change process will confound this approach to some degree. Getting everything to fit neatly in this form will always be difficult; however, the exercise of pushing the conversation toward these guidelines will demand a kind of discipline that is lacking in many change processes.