When the Time Needed Change Exceeds the Project Deadline

One of my clients has an ambitious, forward-thinking agenda that would be oh-so-much easier if he was also able to make critically needed cultural changes. While many of his staff and colleagues agree (at least privately) with his goals, he's met with outright and passive "we can't do that" resistance at every turn.

The problem for this client and many of us is that the time needed to address deep, lasting attitudinal fixes far exceeds the project’s duration. This disappointing disconnect seems to be at the heart of so many frustrations and failed initiatives. We all live and work situations like this.

Rather than deal with the hard, messy cultural issues head-on, many of us plow forward with the project and just deal with the hassles and headaches along the time.  Is there a better way?  I think so.

Instead of dismissing the culture stuff as unrealistic within the project time frame, we should start anyway.  A day delay now is a day longer at the end (even though that might be years and several successors from now).

And instead of ignoring the fatigue and wasted resources caused by fighting daily battles with the defenders of the old way, we could be transparent both goals. The activities would be very different but we could show the actions needed to change hearts and minds, inspire, and get people on board for the right reasons— acknowledging upfront that the timeline extends far into the future. 

Sure, maybe it means scaling back what’s achievable before the final project close-out milestone but isn’t the ultimate goal to get something more lasting?