Intake Blog

Moving Through Change: The Importance of Taking Small Bites of a Big Apple

posted July 12, 2013 by

Last week, I had the great fortune of moving my life to New York City and becoming the new Insidedge representative for GolinHarris New York.

Moving cities is something I've done many times before. From Raleigh to DC, to Phoenix, to Atlanta, to Chicago and finally to New York, I am always amazed by what I learn about change through the moving process.

Normally I manage moves in one sweeping motion that occurs over a 2-3 week period. This time, due to a variety of circumstances, I was forced to try a different approach that required a longer move process with lots of smaller steps; a way forward that I was unfamiliar with.

I decided that this was a great opportunity for a mini change experiment. I asked myself: What will I learn about taking this big, expensive and stressful task and breaking it down to tiny little chunks over a longer period of time?

So, I began the move process with this in mind. Over roughly 10 weeks I took a series of small, yet frequent actions, versus a few big actions -- chunked things down into bite size pieces that slowly culminated into the eventual settling in to a new place in Manhattan.

What did I learn from this process? When the path to change is unclear, when the way forward is not obvious, the combination of radical decisions with iterative, small steps provides great flexibility. Big decisions followed by smaller micro-commitments allowed me to pivot to meet the changes in my needs and environment, ultimately saving lots of valuable time and money -- not to mention stress.

Not surprisingly this has some strong parallels with organizational change. Major change projects are often large scale, expensive and stressful. In many cases we let the sense of urgency and a fear of failure drive us to make large, sweeping actions that are often not sustainable over a long period of time. The result is an organization that gets stuck in its commitments and is unable to adapt.

Agility is Change's best friend. Once the decision to change is made, take small bites. Your stomach will thank you for it.