Have you ever had the stomach-tightening feeling of sitting in a steering committee, knowing that the plan you are about to present is already out of date?
Or perhaps you know that your project or programme team do not fully support your plan? Perhaps they took more than a little persuasion to produce that plan in the first place?
Or maybe you are presenting your second or third re-plan, in tandem with a request for a hefty increase in budget?
If you have been responsible for any large change initative or project, you'll almost certainly know the feeling.
According to McKinsey, three-quarters of change initatives deliver half or less than their expected value and my own research paints an even more dire picture.
So why is the track of change initiatives and projects so poor? My reserarch shows that although most experienced change practitioners believe that organisations are more like unpredictable ecosystems than predictable machines, they also believe that most organisations treat change as if their organisations were machines.
Is it any wonder that so many projects and programmes fall so far short of their sponsors' expectations?
If most people are right and organisations are more like ecosystems than machines, then we should approach change as a gardener, not a mechanic!
Rather than deny uncertainty, we should be actively seeking it out, constantly testing our assumptions and evaluating the value delivered delivered. Effective change is less like building a bridge and like a series of linked "experiments", within an overall plan, constantly adapted as we learn by doing.
At West Point Academy they quote Helmuth Graf von Moltke, the legendary miltary strategist who was head of the Prussian army for over thirty years, who said:
"No battle plan survives contact with the enemy"
I have been directing projects and change programmes for over 20 years and was lucky to have had some wonderful mentors, who showed me how to be a gardener not a mechanic...and I can do the same for you.