Home Tools Coaching Questions Soliciting the Pre-Mortem and Riding the Change Curve: Coaching Tools, Strategies and Concepts for Effective Planning

Soliciting the Pre-Mortem and Riding the Change Curve: Coaching Tools, Strategies and Concepts for Effective Planning

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Because of unrealistically high expectations and the often distracting learning that accompanies most change efforts, the productivity of a person or organization during periods of change will drop off, as compared with performance levels established prior to this change. Accompanying this drop off is a reduction in morale: the “new day” has not yet come; in fact, the “old days” are looking better all the time. At least there were fewer problems in the old days that were so unpredictable and difficult to solve. This drop off in morale often further exacerbates production problems, which in turn further lower the morale. A vicious cycle has been started which can leave an individual or organization in a rather long-term depressed state.

Sometimes when a change is introduced it will yield a short-term boost in productivity and morale—the so-called Hawthorne Effect. While the actual Hawthorne Studies involved the investigation of many different aspects of worker motivation and performance, they are best known for an early finding that workers will try harder because they are involved in an experimental program or, more basically, because they have been singled out for special attention of some type—this has commonly been labeled the Hawthorne Effect.  People try harder because they are involved in a new venture—particularly if they have some psychological or financial stake in the outcome of this venture. If the decision to initiate the change was difficult to make, then people will also attempt, for a short period of time, to work toward its success, or at least ignore its initial failings, in order to reduce the cognitive dissonance associated with this difficult decision. The proverbial donkey that is caught midway between two haystacks of equal size is not only likely to vacillate between these two stacks, he is likely also to focus on the positive attributes of the haystack that he finally does choose and to identify and dwell on the negative attributes of the haystack that wasn’t chosen.

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