There was a great Far Side cartoon once about Rex the Dog and his journey across a tightrope. You see, as the caption read, “Rex was an old dog, and this was a new trick!”
The graphic above barely does Rex justice, but at least you’ll get the point. Rex wasn’t just walking across the high wire. He was doing so while riding a unicycle, twirling a hula hoop, juggling several balls, balancing a fishbowl on his head, and holding a cat in his mouth. Oh yes, and let’s not forget the hushed crowd of spectators below who probably weren’t very hushed… Clearly not your every day feat for Rex. Probably not your every day feat for your senior leaders either!
Well, organizational change is a lot like that Far Side cartoon. It’s complex and challenging. It often takes every ounce of energy and courage and discipline you can muster up. Have you ever had that thought mid-way through a change effort that it would be so much easier just to turn around and inch your way back to the first platform instead of continuing across the tightrope? Numerous large-scale organizational change initiatives do in fact suffer that final fate. Our mission as change experts though is to make sure our clients safely make it to the other side.
I invite you to remember Rex and his journey across the tightrope the next time you find yourself in the midst of a change effort that feels like it’s gone awry. That high wire might begin wavering back and forth. That doesn’t mean it’s going to fall though. Your senior leaders may need you remind them of that from time to time. Remember, they may be old dogs, and this may be a new trick!