Painter’s tape for change initiatives

painter tape 1My daughter recently purchased her first house with her new husband. The two of them were very excited to get in there and start updating things, particularly the wall paint.  They agonized over samples, settled on a scheme, and arrived in the garage with a dozen cans of paint.

Then they spent the next week not painting.  As much as they were eager to start using the new brushes and rollers, there were a lot of steps that had to be done first. The walls had to be scrubbed and the edges had to be taped. Nails had to be removed and holes filled in. Outlet covers needed to be removed. It took a long time before any walls actually changed color.

Leading change initiatives can be like that.  We’ve identified a clear goal, obtained the needed resources, and are ready to see things happen.  The project team is anxious to start checking outcomes off the list. All that stuff about building the team, communicating with stakeholders, and assessing the change climate can feel very time-consuming and frustrating.

painter tape 2However, any experienced leader can tell you that without the proper preparation, the change initiative won’t be successful.  Just like painting the wall, if it’s not prepped properly, the new paint won’t stick. Scrubbing and taping is a lot of work up front, but it makes the overall process much easier. It’s a great feeling to finally remove the tape and see the new, fresh walls – drip free and ready to go.

One of the best tools for the preparation process is a project charter. While a charter is essential for any large change project, it can also be useful for smaller efforts. Creating the charter forces a leader to think through the goals, timelines, and assumptions for the change initiative. It also helps to identify the key stakeholders and what their roles should be.

There are many online resources for creating charters. Here are a couple of places to start:

– Bright Hub project management. What is a project charter?

– MindTools. Project charters

How have project charters helped with your change initiatives?

— Dee Anne Bonebright

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