Little Victories: How Big Change Really Occurs

As the saying goes, even the longest journey starts with just one step.

Over the years, we have engaged with many clients who are dedicated to creating large-scale, significant, and sustainable changes in their organizations in an effort to drive success. Unfortunately, many of these well-intentioned executives believe that there is a silver bullet, or some grand gesture of change, that will accomplish their goals.

While significant changes can and do drive sustainable performance improvements, in my experiences, truly transformational change results from a few elusively simple things.

#1. Greater than the sum of its parts.

Large change is comprised of MANY small changes, or what I call little victories.

Think of any truly transformational change in society that has sustained the test of time, and I will show you a series of seemingly small steps that built upon each other toward the final outcome; events that very often inspired others to create little victories of their own. Those instances challenge the underlying beliefs and assumptions that people hold to be true about the current state.

#2. It takes a village.

One person can rarely create and sustain organizational change that is truly transformational. It takes dialogue that creates a spark in people to step up and do something differently themselves. Engaging everyone in not only having a voice but in having a responsibility to drive small change at their level helps to build momentum and sustainability of what could be.

#3. Shout it from the rooftops.

Find ways to communicate the little victories to the masses. Let the positive change go viral throughout your organization. Transformational change achieves terminal velocity through the stories that people tell. These stories bring change to life; if they are capitalized on, they reinforce the desired behavior change.

At the end of the day, silver bullets are just about as rare as werewolves. Real, transformational change takes careful forethought, the investment of time and energy, and the willingness to let people take ownership of it.

What’s your little victory?