Change Leadership Secret – 88 – There’s No Free Lunch

Change Leadership — Secret # 88
There’s No Free Lunch

Those who plow the sea do not carry the winds in their hands.
—Publilius Syrus

What I Need to Know

Nobel Prize–winning economist Milton Friedman is associated with the famous phrase, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Even if the lunch is advertised as free, someone is going to pay at some point—and ultimately, it is going to be you. This is also true of change. Whether a change is made, now, later, or never—there will be a price to pay. Inaction and missed opportunities are large costs, although they are often hidden or ignored—temporarily. The cost of making a change too quickly can be high. And the cost of making a change too slowly can be even higher. The first step in change actuation is acknowledging that these costs cannot be avoided. The next step is to determine what is achievable and appropriate.

Scope, Schedule, and Resources
Determining what changes are achievable is a matter of assessing the three constraints of project management.

Scope. Scope is essentially the “size” of the project.

Schedule. Schedule is the amount of time allotted to complete the project.

Resources. Resources required to complete a project include items such as labor, materials, capital equipment, expertise, processes, tools, and technology.

What I Need to Do

Help your client avoid these common “Where’s the free lunch?” mistakes:

  • Ignoring hidden costs
  • Delaying action, hoping things will improve by themselves
  • Underestimating the size of the project
  • Underinvesting resources—expecting a project to be completed with few resources

Once the client has accepted the principle of “no free lunch,” the change leader must help the client decide what configuration of scope, schedule, and resources constitutes an appropriate response to the forces of change. An “appropriate” change plan is the minimum scope, schedule, and resource configuration that implements the change.
Do not intentionally lowball the resource requirements and then later ask for more resources. You will lose the client’s trust and the client will not rely on you as a strategic resource.

Action Summary

  • Do not try to “plow the sea” and take on too much change.
  • Drive objective analysis.
  • Eliminate the “free lunch” assumptions and “magic happens here” steps in the change plan.
Change Leadership Secret - 88 There’s No Free Lunch

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