How to know when you’re at your best when implementing change?

How to develop repeatable blueprints for high performance implementation

Working at your best:

When implementing change, how do you know when you’re “there”?
When everything in your team and organization is working at its best?
And how do you replicate that over time and in different parts of the organization...?
When everything is changing as you go?

A winning professional sport team coach, Mike Babcock, known for not pulling any punches, gives you his answer.

What’s your “best image” of yourselves...?

At about 1.50secs in, the coach was asked to “describe your team’s progression in the past calendar year”. It’s a whopper of a question given it was asked during a quick “sound byte” post-game press conference.

But how do you answer such a critical question concisely and accurately... in a minute?
And most importantly, as the head coach, shouldn’t you be able to...?

After a quick non-sequitur, Babcock does a masterful job of answering the question.
He concisely describes that his team has always taken some time to gel initially – and at that point, he defines the best image of the team that can be blueprinted and repeated over time.

In his answer, he provided both the method, and his way of assessing where he stood against his method. In about 20 seconds.

We (an OE colleague and I) had been discussing how to get a “good enough” view of what was needed to implement a global change... Concisely. I then came across this link by co-incidence.

When we discussed the clip together afterward, it resulted in a spirited half-hour discussion of how to answer this same question for this person’s organization.

And do so accurately and in 30 seconds to one minute.

The sports coach described the blueprint for success that he uses to evaluate his team’s progress at any given time.

I thought it would be a useful exercise for change leaders to do – given change organizations, like sports teams, are always changing. It’s tough to get things going – and then sustain it.

So what?

Using Babcock’s framework, see if you can do the same for your immediate and wider change team in your organization.

Put yourself in front of the mirror (or even your phone-camera) and answer the question for your change team.

If you want to look and see how close you’ve come, describe your progression in the past year – what has made you the best you could be? And what does your “blueprint” consist of?

Would you be comfortable if the responses were to be made public... or even shared within your team / organization?

It can be a powerful team exercise to do with your colleagues – ask them all the same question and then have them post their answers to your team site... creating a public record of what you appreciate in what has been done in the past year. But also what worked extremely well.

Using a similar approach, you can also do the future state (i.e. for the coming year) as well. Ask members where the work needs to go in the next year, and where you will need to be at your best.

It’s a great way to either acknowledge where you’ve been or turn attention to what needs focus in the road that lies ahead.

Practical exercise for your change team or organization.

1. Looking back:

What’s the best repeatable blueprint for our (insert – change team, change organization)?
In other words, when we were at our best in this past year, what were we doing and how well?

- has to be less than one minute
- has to identify the key areas that the team or organization was great at
- has to identify where the priority development areas are (gaps to close).
Insights? What are the themes? Do they match what was intended at the outset?

2. Looking forward:

Do the same exercise with the blueprint framed as where you need to be.
What’s the best repeatable blueprint of ourselves required for tomorrow and the task ahead?

You’re looking for identification and alignment on the key areas of focus – and what you can do to bring that about.

Filming each person’s answer to the question is a great way of creating a team-building exercise that you can work on either in the looking back or moving forward example.

Engaging your wider group in the exercise can identify blueprint metrics that have local value while possibly not tying directly to global themes.

Zimmy’s musical reference for this post:

Miles Davis, 1959, So What (

Original article:
(if the link disappeare, here’s the caption:
Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock talks about the growth of his hockey team over the last year, explaining how Toronto is focusing on finding the best image of themselves for 60 minutes that can become a blueprint to be repeated. PUBLISHED: Dec 8, 2018, 12:20 pm EST)