Leading Change: Pick Up Your Own Room (But No One Else’s) . . .

Just this morning, my wife Holly caught me “red-handed” straightening up my 12 year-old’s room.

This, not 2 hours after we both communicated to our precious Katie in no uncertain terms that she would go no where, see no one, do no thing until she removed the ½ eaten sandwich, empty sprite cans, soiled laundry . . . and only the Creator knows what else… to reveal what once was, and could be again – a nicely appointed pre-teen bedroom.

As Holly observed (and shared in a manner unfit to print here)…

I was truly serving no purpose and no one by doing Katie’s job for her. Not me, not the family, and certainly not Katie.

Sponsors, Change Leaders, Consultants – Are you “Picking Up Someone Else’s Room”? Trying to get someone else to pick up yours?

If your organization is engaged in change — and it is — there are literally & figuratively places you can not go, people you can not see, and things you can not do until your room is picked up . . . and Only You can do it.

Attention Change Sponsors:


– YOU must clearly communicate where you’re going & why

– YOU must consistently “live” your message — with visible actions that overtly model and support the shifts you’re asking of the organization

– YOU must allocate the necessary resources (technical, human, financial) to get the real work of change done.

Your sharper, more seasoned Change Team members won’t let you try to peddle these responsibilities off on them anyway – but then again, Change Leadership Mastery isn’t exactly the norm in most organizations. So save yourself some heartache, and your organization some money . . . Pick Up Your Own Room.

** Yes, those with the “juice” to do so throughout the orgnization must do all of this as well. The gurus call it “Cascading Sponsorship.” But if the “video” from the top of the organization doesn’t match the “audio” from the middle . . . this change (and the next, and the next) will fail, period.

2) Now – Get Out Of The Way — and Let Your Change Team Do Their Jobs.

Sponsoring Change while simultaneously running the business is a full time gig. This is where your head and heart belong — being a good SPONSOR, period. Driving change at the tactical level — even if you were good at it (and you’re not) — is a terribly irresponsible way to invest your time, energy, talents, and political capital.

Attention Change Execution Team (Change Leaders, Consultants, etc.):

1) You can’t run (only) the second ½ of the play.

Not in this game – the price & risk of failure is just too high.

You need to be there WHEN THE PLAYS ARE FIRST CALLED – at the very onset — to guide your execs in crafting the strategy. (And don’t whine about not being invited to the locker room until halftime. If that’s the case, find another team – this one’s going to lose anyway.)

2) Beware the Lazy Sponsor.

Well, lazy is less accurate in most cases than simply uneducated — uneducated about what it really takes to properly sponsor (effectively express, model, and reinforce) change.

In any case . . . Don’t Pick Up Their Room (try to do their job for them).

Yeah, I know – sounds ridiculous, but the allure can be incredibly strong. It’s the “fool’s gold” of our arena. I get calls everyday from OD / HR folks and internal consultants trying to take on major change efforts without any real sponsorship in place.

Bright, credentialed professionals who have been lulled into the idea that they can actually be surrogate sponsors — because they’ve been given some training budget and project management headcount for their change projects. Afterall, they’re the resident change experts anyway . . . and “Joe Bob” Sponsor is just too busy finalizing the latest merger.

The next time your Execs try to throw money (in lieu of genuine sponsorship) behind a major change initiative, invest it in “T” Bills or double-up on the shrimp trays at the next retreat . . . Either will produce a much healthier ROI than even the most educated and skilled workforce engaged in ill-sponsored change.

Gotta Go . . . Katie left a flip-flop downstairs, and the dog thinks it’s a ribeye.

– Stone