As I was recently reading a Young Adolescent novel, Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord, I was struck by this line:
Last times and first times shouldn’t matter more than all the middle times, but somehow, they do.
Not only was this a powerful quote within the story, but it struck a chord in me as I connected to leadership work.
So often we focus on the beginning of new initiatives, spending hours upon hours preparing for a new roll-out, gearing up for the big event, and planning for the opening ceremony so-to-speak. Later, we spend as many hours dissecting the results, analyzing the data, or doing an autopsy of an idea we have already put to rest.
But what about the “middle times”? How much time, energy, effort, and support do we provide to our stakeholders when they are in the thick of it? Fullan’s change theory addresses the fact that with most big changes, or new initiatives, you should expect and plan for an implementation dip. This dip would fall in the middle times of many plans. How often do leaders make a strategic, focused plan to address the implementation dip so that the initiative doesn’t fall apart or lose steam?
The middle is where we also tend to forget to provide feedback. Both positive and constructive feedback about the work- the process- the effort- are important to continued success. Leaders would be wise to remember to appreciate the efforts of their teams as much in the middle as they do at the beginning and end, to celebrate the changes.
I am capturing these thoughts for a reminder to myself and other leaders: honor the middle times. Celebrate the work before, during and afterwards!
- How do you honor the middle times?
- How do you plan for the implementation dip?