I worked on a jigsaw puzzle and was struck at all the parallels to organizational change:

  • Even when you have a vision (the box) and know all the pieces are there, it is still sometimes difficult to believe that it will all come together.
  • It is challenging to know what to do next after finishing the frame – you often believe there is a “right” answer when really the next thing to do is just to begin somewhere.
  • There are many pieces required to realize the vision (in this case, 1000 of them) and all are equally important.
  • When you get stuck –as you will – it’s best to move on to another piece of the puzzle and keep making progress elsewhere. I didn’t work on all the sections simultaneously, rather finished one image at a time.
  • Oftentimes, moving around to view the pieces from a different perspective helps immensely, as does walking away from it and coming back later. I was able to easily find several pieces in the morning that eluded me the night before.
  • Small details often seem insignificant at first but then later prove to be just what you needed to make a connection.
  • I was convinced that a piece was missing – which it wasn’t – but, like change, it sometimes seems like the task is impossible.
  • Change takes time. Even with the vision set and all the pieces assembled – which of course never happens in real life – it took several days to finish.

Putting together a jigsaw puzzle can be a good change exercise for your staff. Leave a puzzle out on in a common space and then ask people to reflect on the lessons learned after it is assembled. The fact that a simple exercise is challenging could give them some perspective on how to persevere and give you shared language to use in your change journey.

Anyone find the piece with blue sky and a red tab on top?

Just begin!
The missing piece — that wasn’t missing
Keep making progress where you can
The end is in sight!

 

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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