Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast

This is the third video in the MB&A Executive Series which concludes the interview with Major General Dale Meyerrose on the topic of organizational change.

Below is the transcript of the video.
Josh: Alright as you’re going about those transformational efforts are there processes that you feel like are critical to getting that to work. Are there some things that you found over time that you key in on that you just got to be able to perform this type of activity to make it all go?

Dale: Absolutely. There are the dos and the don’ts. Ok the easiest to talk about is the don’ts, so let me get through that and talk about the don’ts. Some of the don’ts are the elements of consistency of the message. When you’re going through a change making sure that everybody on the team is on the same sheet of music and understands their roles and is not working at cross purposes is probably the single biggest detriment to change occurring in organizations. Because if you think about it there are literally thousands if not millions of small little decisions that have to be made across an organization even a very small organization and people will use values of the organization to independently make those decisions. Such as you know their own personal work flow, such as you k now what interface relationship is with every other person at their level their subordinates or their superiors. So when you got the values of the old organization in which people were able with a great degree of reliability and comfort make those decisions and now you’ve taken away the underpinnings on which they base all those little nuances and all those minute by minutes second by second decisions and so the element of message constancy and filling in those gaps of values have become some of the biggest mistakes. The other big mistake I see is, is that when you’re transforming and organization you’re continually changing the baseline. So you know how you start on day one of the change and how you are on day five, day 15 day 30 day 90 day 100 until you get a new operations normal you are on this maturity curve and the things that make you successful early in that maturity curve are not the same things that will make you successful later in that maturity curve. So those are the things that I think interfere with transformational efforts and change efforts the most. Let me give you the do and this is a do that I developed with my first really big challenge in organizational transformation that was when we were standing up us northern command and the phrase is gotta catchy phrase to it but it’s got a lot behind it. Think big, start small, scale fast and so the idea behind that and this is good by the way whether you’re talking about strategic problems, medium sized problems or very tactical near term problems. What is the context around which all your activity must situate itself in? You know is this a critical piece, is this a non-critical piece, is this a strategic piece is this a mid-level piece you know where does it fit in? what is the big picture it fits in so that when you build whatever you’re building whenever you change whatever you’re changing it fits in the context it does not provide mixed messages or disruption to what you’re doing but in fact provides a synergistic effect. Starting small means that you go down to the very basic element and you master that very basic element whether that is the statement of problem whether that is you know a proposed solution or whatever you get that very basic and you get it just right in smallest form and then you figure out how high or how fast or how far do I need to scale what my proposed solution is. If my solution doesn’t scale then I go back and I pick another start small. But I never ever lose focus on what’s the large context the overall context where does this fit in in relationship not only the organization but my teammates what my responsibilities are etc., and I have used that idea think big, start small, scale fast as a very successful way to get that explained to a lot of folks. No matter what role you are whether you are a technician a manager a supervisor a leader or an executive in an organization.

For part one and two of this interview, check out my other blog posts for the videos and transcriptions:

Dale Meyerrose on Organizational Transformation, Part 1

Top-Down vs Bottom-Up Approach: Dale Meyerrose Interview Part 2

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