Middle of Change -- staff / board review of THE PLAN

As a result of the Dec. 2013 Board's exec session discussion about the operations report section that spoke to the Rosabeth Moss Kantor article about Change in the Middle, it was requested that I create a tool to collect and aggregate directors own responses to the questions posed in the article.

The below survey uses our internal survey tool and can be used in conjunction with an online group discussion. 

As additional reference material, I have included the progress report of THE PLAN from the September 2013 board meeting Operations Report and the original THE PLAN document which includes the situation analysis section and original budget (which can be compared to B1 report in Dec. 2013 board call packet. 


From Kantor’s article, In the Middle of Change:

The middles of change are miserable for predictable reasons. Forecasts fall short, especially if the situation is novel, and it is hard to know exactly how things will play out. (That’s certainly true of the Obama-Geithner stimulus.) Decision-makers are stingy with resources, making it inevitable that funds run out before victory is in sight. (Score another problem for the under-funded federal stimulus.) A successful brand manager for a major consumer goods company has a poster on his wall declaring “New products always take longer and cost more.” (Amen, brother.) There are always unexpected obstacles and hidden delays. Leaders must be prepared to secure additional resources, beg for additional time, or figure out creative ways to stretch scarce resources.

But slipped schedules wouldn’t be fatal flaws without another middles problem: rising negativity and slowing momentum. (I’m sure a physicist would have a formula for that.) Harsh reality sets in: This is harder to do than anyone thought. Conflicts surface. Investors and friends ask why it isn’t faster. Critics attack. Partisan bickering makes it harder to find solutions, and the middles get even more miserable.

  • Tune into the environment. What has changed since you began the initiative? Do the original assumptions hold? Is the need still there? 
  • Check the vision. Does the idea still feel inspiring? Is it big enough to make extra efforts worthwhile? 
  • Test support. Are supporters still enthusiastic about the mission? Will new partners join the initiative?
  • Examine progress. Have promises been kept and milestones passed? (MOSTLY) Are there early indicators, tangible demonstrations, that this could succeed?  Can the next wave of results sustain supporters and silence critics?
  • Search for synergies. Can the project work well with other activities? Can it be enhanced by alliances? 

Too many No’s, and it might be time to cut losses and move on. But if the answers are mostly Yes, it is not over yet. You are still in the middle and still in the game. Renew the dream, regroup to remove roadblocks, surround yourself with supporters who cheer you on, and stick with it.

Recognize the struggle of middles, give it some time, and a successful end could be in sight. Those who master change persist and persevere. They have stamina. They are flexible. They expect obstacles on the road to success and celebrate each milestone. They keep arguing for what matters. And who knows what might happen? Persistence could keep innovations alive...


Below is an adaptation of the questions posed above.  Thank you for spending some time with it, and I look forward to seeing what comes of it.


the_plan_w-budget_f.pdf1.99 MB
cgn_strategic_plan_update_092013.pdf51.64 KB