3 Orders of Change and Breakthrough Results!
Team Higher Ground's clients are often looking for practical and powerful methods that actually work, actually help them create extraordinary or "game-changing" results! Through experiential team-building and adventure-learning activities we reveal to our clients the predictable order that breakthrough results are achieved in.
1st Order Change, Working Harder, Change of Intensity
Working Harder tends to be the ‘strong suit’ of many leaders and teams. Especially in times of high stress and pressure we tend to fall back into our strong desire to ‘do’ and try to ‘white knuckle’ our way forward. When working harder is having minimal (even detrimental) results and people are frustrated look take this as an indication it’s time to look for 2nd (or 3rd) order change opportunities.
2nd Order Change, Working Smarter, Change of Process
Working Smarter, as the name implies is clever, it works – for a time. By all means, look for opportunities to move from 1st order change to 2nd order change but be aware of the tendency to then assimilate the new process and become ‘satisfied’ that your results are ‘good enough.’ Sometimes ‘good is the enemy of great.’ In the spirit of continuous betterment be aware when your 2nd order change is no longer producing an improvement in results and look for opportunities to explore 3rd order change implementation. Again, when results are diminishing (or have stopped) and you’re feeling frustrated it’s a clue to doing a ‘re-think’ on your way forward.
3rd Order Change, Thinking Differently, Change of Mind-set
Often what we might term ‘breakthrough’ results start with a change not in intensity or process but in "level of thinking." Paraphrasing Einstein, your problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them. Sometimes it helps to start with a ludicrous target as a way of releasing your ‘What’s Possible’ thinking and mind-set, what some organizations call a ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goal’ or BHAG. Often, just when you’re feeling you’ve earned some applause it’s time to challenge if you’ve really shifted from 2nd to 3rd order solutions.
The above model (Orders of Change) can be applied to virtually any problem within your organization where improvement is desired. Key to tackling the really big issues, is creating a culture that encourages the ‘art of reflection.’ In a simplified continuous improvement model know as Plan/Do/Review most organizations are strong on the ‘Do’ element, weaker on the ‘Plan’ piece, and weaker still in the ‘Review' element. Without mindfully creating opportunities (time) to step back form the doing, it’s virtually impossible to identify opportunities to shift out of 1st order behaviors into 2nd and, most importantly, 3rd order solutions. Also, without designated opportunities to back and reflect as a Leadership Team, the tendency to get trapped in 1st order change behaviors over an extended period of time may lead to ‘burn out.’
The analogy of a distance runner training for a marathon may help you think about the role of reflection and review as it relates to high performance. In a runner’s training regiment, practice runs of various lengths are scheduled as are ‘rest days.’ For many runners, especially ‘type A’ personalities, it takes time to realize that a rest day is of equal or greater important to a run day and to begin considering them also as a ‘training day,’ Without rest days the body begins to break down and optimal performance is hindered.