The London Olympics has kicked off in earnest and someone reporting on the news used the phrase “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” when referring to the UK’s rather lacklustre medal count. And it got me thinking. With the economic crisis as it is everyone is treating enterprise change as a 100m dash; it must be done in record time, get it over with and beat the competition. But it shouldn’t work like this.
Organisational transformation should be more like an ‘athlon’, made up of several events focused on endurance and speed, not just speed alone. More often than not it’s the ‘endurance’ that’s dropped which translates to a lack of long term vision and goal in mind for the end of the change itself. Change is being planned as a series of quick wins with little cohesion or strategy and while it means you could get there first, you don’t necessarily understand where ‘there’ is or why you even bothered in the first place, and you run out of energy before the finishing post (and energy in an enterprise sense means the lack of sustained involvement and interest in change or belief that it will deliver the benefit it once set out to achieve).
The missing endurance element is the strategy and longer term vision to outlast the competition while they run out of puff half way.
And if you look at how most BPM and process improvement programmes are run, they’re set up as a series of 100m bursts but no regard to endurance.
Endurance is the difference between getting a Gold and going home empty handed.