Mark was recently considering how the past can influence how organisations approach change.
My local cinema is in the process of being refurbished. It’s an old, iconic Art Deco building in North London which hasn’t changed much over the years. It was recently taken over by one of those new cinema chains who are creating a more ‘modern’ cinema experience with sofas, soft lighting, coffee bars and digital screens. From my perspective, it’s a change for the better so hats off to them! As an Art Deco and cinema fan, I think they’ve managed to keep the very best characteristics of the old building whilst bringing the whole film-going experience bang up-to-date.
This got me thinking about change in the workplace. We know that change and continuous improvement are constants and whether we like it or not, change is inevitable. Every organisation needs to have an eye on the future to look for new products, smarter ways of working, more efficient processes and leaner structures.
Looking forward is an intelligent way to progress and improve tired processes and ways of working. But I wonder how often do we take the time to investigate the past? Not to dwell too long or fight it, but to really understand which are the best bits of the past we can learn from and take forward, and which bits no longer work for us and need to be changed.
Future visions and change are essential but they must be based just as much on what has worked in the past as what hasn’t. The Stop, Start, Continue model is an effective and commonly-used technique for developing change plans. It’s a useful tool for looking at service improvement, generating ideas, and solving problems, ‘Stop’ refers to the things that don’t work well and should be discarded, with new ideas generated under ‘Start’ and the things that don’t need to change captured as ‘Continue’.
We often see the main focus on stop and start. It’s natural to focus energy and time on the bad (stop) and be excited about the new (start). I wonder though, if we give enough weight in considering what’s working well and what can continue to work well in the new world. Perhaps there’s a reason why Grandma always said don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater…….?