If You Want Major Change Then Forget Big Ideas

The trouble with the environment in which we live is that everyone needs to change, all the time. We keep hearing about the “next big idea” electric cars, alternative power, the four day week, remote working etc etc. but if you really want major change then forget big ideas. Small, constant change is the answer.

Extremes are rarely, if ever, the answer to anything. If you want to effectively achieve major change then concentrate on the small things Little Things Mean A Lot

The classic example is the massive improvement and change that Dave Brailsford made to British cycling by changing small things on a regular basis. This has to be one of the most impressive stories of all time. If you are unfamiliar with the story then I suggest watching the Diary Of A CEO video on YouTube Diary Of A CEO 

The trouble with big ideas is that they are very difficult to achieve and also people believe it’s only big things that lead to big things. You know the story. You want to get fit so it’s down the gym five times a week for a hour each time or running ten miles a day three times a week. Within a very short period of time other things overtake the good intentions and instead of five days a week at the gym, it’s none. The same applies in organisations. If someone currently works fifty hours a week and they decide a four day (thirty two hours) week is the answer and they decided to go for big change and only work thirty two hours straight away. Very quickly work builds up, the hours creep up and before they know where they are they are working fifty five hours a week to catch up.  If, instead you go to the gym for twenty minutes twice a week and then increase by five minutes a time, or run one mile twice a week and increase by half a mile a week or reduce your hours by fifteen minutes a week the chance of success and effectively bringing about major change is much higher.

Any blog on this subject has to quote the old Chinese saying of a “journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” so we will get that out of the way, but it’s true. If you want major change then concentrate on the small things. The problem with so many environmentalists is they have big ideas, the problem with politicians is they love big ideas and the same is true of so many people at work. Instead concentrate on the small things and you will automatically get major change. Once you have finished this blog please have a read of Atomic Habits by James Clear.

Many small ideas are nowhere near as easy to propose to your manager or board of directors as one big idea. Today is budget day in the UK and big ideas will be rolled out by the bucket load in order to get column inches in the press only for them to shrivel on the vine like all the others. What a wonderful world it would be if the following headline appeared. “Government Announces No More Big Ideas, Just Lots Of Small Effective Ones.”

Finally an old saying from my parents generation:

Look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves. To effectively bring about major change have lots of small effective ideas.

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