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The Butterfly Effect: Step 1 to Change

The need to change has been part of the world since the first breath. Adapting from crawling to walking is one of your first lessons. Many a battle cry (from boardroom to battlefield) have been given to encourage others to change toward a favored outcome. Braveheart rings in my ear, as William Wallace rallied his troops for change in their behavior, to fight the enemy.

While Mr. Wallace may have had a simple plan for how to get others to change, more typically this is a complex process because at its heart lies people. Without people, everything would be simple. Let’s be honest, pretty much everything would be easier without people involved in them.

There’s many strategies, theories, and programs that walk you through how to be a master change artist, but really it starts in one place: Strategy! I love strategy.

The easiest way to fail implementation is through poor planning and a neglect to think through actions or potential outcomes. It’s sort of like the “butterfly effect,” where if you went back in time one change in choice can lead to a whole new set of outcomes. But you can’t go back in time, at least not yet, so you have to try and think through the future.

When getting started, strategizing can seem daunting, but I find it easiest to identify your big-picture first, and work back from there, rather than starting with a brainstorming session of all the ways you could potentially communicate your change. Are you building out your office? Changing your branding? Getting acquired? Hiring a whole new department? Whatever the change is, you should be able to clearly articulate your goal and objective.

The objective is the change itself. The goal is the purpose you hope to achieve through your change strategy. And let's stop being super vague with our goals. There's nothing worse than a goal that you never are quite able to achieve. For example, do not say, "today I'm going to work a lot." How do you know when you succeed?! That's why I live by to-do lists... but that's a completely different story. Generally, I recommend SMART goals (if you're not sure what those are, Google is your BFF).

Now don’t think that I’m telling you to stop reaching for the stars. This is what your objective is for. You could say that your objective is to take over the world. And your goal could say that by 2020 you want to take over Europe. It’s a way to ask yourself “How will I specifically help these people change towards my intended objective, and be able to measure success?” Measuring anything requires this equation to be filled out: Action + Increment/ Time.

With no plan, you subject yourself, your company, and your brand to the whimsy of the wing. But if you start with measurable goals to help define your objective, you control the future butterfly effect. No “what if”’s or “if only”’s, just outcomes from a strategic plan that you have now implemented.

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