The danger of building a programme

Naming or branding a change or development programme may give it more attention and higher immediate recognition, but its effects are often to reduce its long-term effectiveness.

One of the strongest signals any decision-maker sends is not what they say but what they pay attention to persistently.  It’s the regular weekly figures that speak more loudly than the once-a-year town hall presentation.  It’s the persistence of attention, not the intensity, as Schein says.

So, when change or innovation are perceived as areas in need of attention, it’s far healthier to build habits and rituals of persistence attention to the need. 

Instead, it’s often that a fabulous new organisation-wide roll-out of training or tools is announced.  The area in question – change, innovation, leadership, customer-first, etc – is named as the next big thing and away we go.  Then, as other pressures intrude and programme leaders are promoted, it fades quietly into the background, to be safely ignored again in favour of the day-to-day numbers.

Few people lose their jobs for not taking part in a training programme, plenty do for not making their numbers.  Guess which any sane person thinks is more important?

Day-to-day staples work, flavour of the month doesn’t.