Today's Challenge: How Do You Eat an Elephant?

Today, I attended a Chess Not Checkers workshop with several hundred leaders. The content was strong, the communicator was phenomenal and the instructional design was engaging and highly interactive. At several points in the daylong program, the participants were asked to record questions that had come to mind during the previous sessions.
As I look at those questions now on the flight home, several attendees asked an extremely pragmatic question: How do they take the learnings from the day back to their organizations?
This is a terrific question! I am guessing most of you reading this have asked a similar question at some point in your career. Think back to an outstanding conference or workshop, maybe it was a keynote speech you heard, or a course you attended. You knew the content would be helpful for others, but there were so many people who needed to hear the message who were not at the event. What did you do?
Here are some tips to consider when you face this challenge in the future.
Identify those who can help. Were you at the event with others? If so, those are your first candidates for the role of ambassador. Can you enlist them to help you take the content back to your organization? If not, you’ll need to select a core group to share the content with upon your return to your workplace. If you are attempting to usher in significant change, you will not be able to move forward without a coalition of co-conspirators… draft them or create them.
Start with why. People generally want to know why they should change before they want to know how to change.  Is change needed because your current reality is untenable? Or, is it because of the upside potential of a different approach? Is change mandated due to current pain or fear of future consequences? Perhaps the reason to change is a compelling picture of the future – this is called vision.
Isolate key messages. If you were exposed to multiple or complex messages during your event, you will need to sort, rank or prioritize key messages. You do not want to overwhelm people with too much information out of context. Identify the big ideas first. Whatever your content, you will want to identify the essence of what you wish to communicate with others.
Create two plans. One of my big lessons over the last decade is the idea that operational plans alone almost never result in meaningful change. A great operational plan COMBINED with a well designed and executed communications plan rarely fails.tweet_bird Think specifically about what needs to be done AND what needs to be communicated; who needs to hear what? When? In what format? Every operational activity should have a corresponding communications counterpart.
Take one bite at a time. That’s how you eat an elephant. You cannot do it in one fell swoop. If you are to be successful, you must do it in small bites. What are the small bites you need to take to begin the change journey back in the workplace? Work together with others on your team to determine what the individual bites should be, and in what sequence you should execute them. Be patient. Meaningful, lasting change is rarely accomplished quickly. Bon appetit![GLS_Shield]


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