Small Changes and Transformation
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

Big ideas and big changes are all the rage today. You can read about it everywhere. However, most sustainable change does not occur that way. More importantly, transformation almost never happens that way. More often than not, big ideas, big change, and big risk fail. I highly recommend lots of small changes, quickly executed, multiplied, and expanded. Small change and transformation is the key to long-standing and scalable success. Why is this?

Overnight massive success is a myth. I like to remind people that overnight success takes about 10 years. How long did it take for Instagram to become a $1 billion dollar company? It took about 10 years. How about Amazon, Google, and the reinvention of Apple? Yup, it took around a decade or more. New, creative, and amazing things take time. They take daily hard work and effort. All change does. Therefore, learn the art of small rapid change and you will nearly always be successful.

Small change can be instantly accomplished. At a personal level, it is the only thing that seems to stick and continue for years. You can totally reinvent your life with small changes, multiplied, increased, and expanded into new additional behavior changes. Let me give you a personal example. I wanted to begin daily exercise again. It was how I started my career as an Army Officer. So, I used small changes to do so. I started by doing five pushups, five sit-ups, and a 1-minute plank each morning. Quickly, within the week, I upped the routine to twice a day, increased the numbers to twice the amount, and quickly had a daily exercise routine. Later, I added a 10-minute walk that I increased to two 10-minute walks. With just minutes a day, and not a lot of effort, I quickly became a person who exercised daily. Something I had not been in 30 years! How? I created a small habits transformation in my life. I have done this now in many, many other areas of my life.

One of the best resources for understanding rapid small habits transformation is the book called Small Habits Revolution by Damon Zahariades. It describes the entire process and it works incredibly well. This same method can be used at an organizational level for change. Many small new habits executed rapidly over time can totally transform an organization. I have used this technique at MACNY. Let me give you a quick example.

When I first started at MACNY, we did not keep score in any meaningful way. We had our monthly financials and we kept track of some of our activities. However, we never used this information to greatly enhance our offerings or to implement strategic initiatives. We do now. About 10 years ago, we created our first few simple scorecards to measure our progress and celebrate success. Each is developed to track our key activities and our outcomes. We learned how to make progress, achieve outcomes, and celebrate successes over time. Now, it is all a part of our thriving culture. Small changes, increased, and multiplied over time is the key to transformative and sustainable change.

What can you do to begin your own small change transformation? Where would you start? How can you help others develop their own small habits revolution? How could your organization begin a small change transformation? As a leader, we need to go first in our own change efforts. Start today – and it will transform you and your organization’s future!