Recently, I took a much-needed and long-awaited vacation with my family. This trip was three years in the making and included our adult children, their significant others, and our grandchild. If you know me, you know nothing else makes me happier than being with our kids and their families. We call it FF, Family Fun! All of us were in need of some extended time together in a relaxing, no-work atmosphere (preferably tropical for our tastes!). After three years of planning and saving, our trip was underway!
We laughed, played, basked in the glorious sun (some had left snow behind, so this was a BIG deal!), cooked meals together, and went on adventures (think, getting up at 2:00 am to drive to a volcano to watch the sunrise!).
Everything was blissful. That is until...I made a mistake. What the mistake was is not really important, but I know human nature is to be curious, so I will tell you. The kids had left to fly home, and it was just my wonderful husband and I on the last day of our vacation. We decided to take a drive and explore before catching our flight home. The views were spectacular from the car, and a lookout point beckoned us to stop and take in the full view. We popped out of the vehicle for a quick look, we could see the vehicle from where we were standing, and there were others nearby getting in and out of cars. What, you are wondering, was my mistake? I left my purse in the front seat while we popped out for a quick peek at the view. Before we knew it, a car quickly pulled up, a person smashed the vehicle window right in front of our eyes, grabbed my purse, and sped off!
This definitely was a mistake! I know better than to leave valuables in a vehicle, but I became lax because we were close by, and there were others in the area. It did not matter. This became an opportunity to learn. When working with clients, I frequently use the term OTL's, Opportunities to Learn. I tell them that when something goes wrong, or an error is made during the change/implementation process, it is just an opportunity to learn. We discuss the fact that because the mistake happened, it helps the team learn about possible pitfalls, obstacles, and barriers the team should plan for during the change process. The truth is that if the mistake, problem, pitfall, or barrier happened to one person, it is likely to happen to another (I am not the only person who had my purse stolen at a lookout).
This incident pushed me to reflect on that term, OTL, Opportunity to Learn, and implementation teams. I recovered from the mistake I made through the use of a team, my husband, the police, and the TSA (yes, you can fly without an ID, who knew!). While I absolutely did not enjoy this experience at all, the challenge provided valuable learning for myself and others. It gave me an opportunity to reflect on my practices and habits and make changes for improvement. Because change is hard and mistakes inevitably happen, when an organization has a strong implementation team in place, they can recover, make adjustments to the plan and improve. At its heart, this is what implementation teams do with change initiatives. They:
Meet routinely to review what is going well and what is getting in the way
Identify pitfalls, mistakes, or barriers
Use the collective talents and skills of the team to problem-solve
Make a plan to overcome pitfalls, mistakes, or barriers
Incorporate the new learning into the implementation plan
Mistakes and challenges are part of life and any change initiative. We can set ourselves up for success if we have a team (I am thankful I had a team) to help overcome them and a mindset to look at the mistake or challenge as an OTL. While it is an easy change to no longer leave valuables in the car! I know if I encounter another OTL, I will use my team and resources to improve and learn from mistakes.
Do you have an implementation team to address and anticipate pitfalls, mistakes, and barriers when implementing change in your organization? Do you have the skills and knowledge to build an implementation team to champion your change initiatives?
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