Levers of Change: Resources

This post may seem like a blinding flash of the obvious – if you want to drive change, you must resource change. There isn’t a leader in the world who would disagree with this statement. However, many leaders fail to act on this fundamental principle. To desire change without resources is a fragile hope.

This is not to say change can’t happen without resources; it is just a long, slow process; one which often ends in disappointment. The gravitational pull of the status quo is strong. This series is about levers of change. As I wrote previously, a lever is a multiplier. Resources are one of those multipliers. Often, the inertia of today can only be overcome with the force of resources.

As you consider the change you are trying to create, don’t think too narrowly about resources. They come in several forms.

Leadership – Leaders create change. This is the first resource I suggest you allocate when attempting to drive change. I’m amazed at how often this is overlooked. Who will lead the change? Sometimes, there is no change because there is no assigned leadership accountability. Name the leader who is responsible for the change. And, depending on the magnitude of what you’re trying to accomplish, he or she may need to be relieved of other duties. To expect a leader to add a major change initiative to his or her already full load is smoke and mirrors, it is not allocating leadership resources.

People – If you’ve allocated leadership, that’s a great start. However, does the leader have the people to do the work? This is a common mistake. For whatever reason, perhaps it’s our unbridled optimism as leaders, we under-staff major change efforts. When we do the plan flounders. Change doesn’t happen on its own. People create the change. If you don’t allocate people, you’re probably not going to get change you desire in a timely fashion.

Time – I referenced this above when talking about leadership. To allocate people, is not the same as freeing up space – time and focus, for people to drive the change effort. One common response is, “We don’t have the time to invest.” If that’s the case, you may not have the time to change. Not only does change require leadership and people, it requires time on task.

Dollars – Of course, money matters. It may be the ultimate lubricant of change. If you have dollars, you can outsource much of what you need to have done. Cash also allows the people you’ve assigned to do their work in the most efficient way possible. I have seen organizations allocate leadership, people and time without the money. This creates more frustration than change. People can invest themselves since payroll is a sunk cost; but if they need to create training, or conduct research or travel, or hire consultants, or build prototypes or benchmark competitors, or countless other activities, dollars will be required.

So, with the generally accepted principle, change requires resources, what are the implications for us as leaders? We need to choose our change initiatives carefully; resource them; enjoy success – then tackle the next one. To embark on un-resourced change mandates is poor leadership practice.

(Mark Miller, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else. This post was originally published on Monday, June 16, 2014 at www.greatleadersserve.org, by Mark Miller and used with his permission. In the tenth anniversary edition of The Secret, Miller reminds readers of a seemingly contradictory concept: to lead is to serve. With more than 600,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing. The 10th anniversary edition of The Secret released on September 2, 2014. Check out this video about the book.)