Last week I was in San Diego for 4 days. Upon my return to Atlanta, I crept into my 7-month-old daughter’s room during her nap. In less than a week, she had grown and changed enough that I could perceive the difference. To anyone else, the subtle transformation would have been imperceptible; however as her mother, she was noticeably 4 days older.
Later, I started to think of how this experience related to organizational change. I had two different thoughts:
1. As living organisms, organizations change continuously and not discretely. In order to show improvement over time, it is important to measure important features at different points in time. Without having data to show that improvement occurred, it might be impossible to prove that it did. Just like with my daughter, you may not perceive a change unless you look (i.e. measure) at different points in time.
2. The transformation of my daughter over such a short period of time would probably only be perceptible to me as her mother, whereas other people would need a longer time between observations to distinguish a difference. Because her exact image is imprinted on me every time I see her, the minor changes were obvious, although indescribable. As a change agent, it is important to observe and be aware of your organization, so that tiny changes are noticeable. That way, you can celebrate smaller wins earlier or make course corrections sooner.
Inquiry: Where might you look for imperceptible change?