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Value Creation Blog

Smaller Is Better Than Big - Creating Value

Posted by Josh Patrick

elephant and rider resized 600I’ve recently re-read Switch by the Heath brothers.  I thought the book was good the first time around.  The second time I think it’s even better. 

In the book the Heaths use two metaphors as part of what you need for effective change.  The first is the elephant; a slow moving animal that tends to go where it wants to go.  The second is the rider; the rider thinks about things and lives in their head.

Moving the elephant means shrinking change.

All too often we try to make great big changes in what we’re doing.  We don’t like big changes.  We have a hard time processing what to do when we’re given too big of a change to make.  Instead if you think about change by shrinking it into smaller bites, you’re more likely to be successful.

I don’t know about you, but when I think about great big changes I get this giant headache.  I might know I need to make the change, but when it comes time for me to actually take steps towards the change I just get stuck.  How about you, do you find you get stuck also?

Instead if I can shrink the change into multiple projects I’ll move much more quickly. 

There is quite a bit of research that shows that change will happen more quickly when we make it bite sized.  If you are asking yourself, or more importantly others, to do a great big project then the project is likely to get stuck.  Getting the project unstuck might be just too hard to do. 

You’re going to have to figure out where the project is stuck.  Then you’re going to have to get it unstuck.  Finally, you’re going to need to figure out what the new direction will be.

If you do smaller projects you’re still going to get stuck.  This time because your project is a small one, it won’t be nearly as hard to figure out where things have gone wrong.  You can quickly find the part that’s stuck and get on your way again.  This is the secret of choosing smaller projects that can be completed quickly, or making your big projects small by chunking them down to smaller pieces.

Control your rider by using simple actions.

When you see a complex problem you might be inclined to design a complex solution.  That’s never a good idea.  When you have complex solutions to complex problems the rider in you will probably mull over options in your mind.  When you mull options over you might think you’re making progress, but your just spinning your wheels in place.

Have you ever found yourself in this sort of situation?  The next time you are faced with a complex problem, come up with a simple solution.  You’ll find the simple solution helps you and those you work with understand the problem and solution better.

Let’s combine the rider and the elephant.

To get a project moving we need to make it a little one.  Little projects tend to have simple solutions.  When you are working with a simple solution it’s easy to ask others to take simple actions that move the ball forward.  You don’t need to take giant steps.  In fact, if you take smaller steps, your likely going to move faster.

You won’t be running into problems that need a complete re-set.  You’ll be able to fail fast and fail cheaply.  This will help you get to your destination in a much more effective and efficient manner.  Isn’t that what you want in the first place?

One of the areas where we like to make life much more complicated than it needs to be in is in the budgeting process.  We’ve developed a simplified budgeting process that will make your project smaller and more easily accomplished.  You might even find that after the budget is done you look at it from time to time.  To get this special report, click on the button below.


Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Stage 2 Planning Partners and NFPSI are not affiliated.

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Topics: business coaching, cultural change, learning experiences

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