Things are going to get worse before they get better


None of us, including me, likes the headline above.  I want every less-than-ideal situation in my life to be made better with the snap of a finger.  But given that those situations likely evolved over years, fixing them will not be quick.  And right now, I’m just thinking of my personal life.  These same dynamics are at play in our organizations.


The harsh reality is that genuine and lasting change personally and organizationally will require travelling through the classic Change Curve as illustrated by Kubler & Ross in the diagram below showing that morale and confidence will get worse before getting better:

As illustrated above the classic stages in the change curve are:

  • Shock: surprise or shock at the event
  • Denial: disbelief; looking for evidence that it isn’t true
  • Frustration: recognition that things different; sometimes angry
  • Depression: low mood; lacking in energy
  • Experiment: initial engagement with new situation
  • Decision: learning how to work in the new situation; feeling more positive
  • Integration: changes integrated; a renewed individual


Everything looks like a failure in the middle


A helpful HBR article on this topic, “Change is hardest in the middle” was written by Rosabeth Moss Kanter, an organizational change expert.  After recounting how all leaders and those tasked with making an idea or product come to life, or effect change in their organization, inevitably become impatient with the rate of change, become irritable, feel tired, and are deafened by the growing chorus of naysayers, Kanter goes on to write:

Welcome to the miserable middles of change. This is the time when Kanter’s Law kicks in.

Everything looks like a failure in the middle. Everyone loves inspiring beginnings and happy

endings; it is just the middles that involve hard work.


What to do when your EOS® implementation looks like a failure

Given that EOS® implementation will change your culture and organization for the better, it is still subject to traveling through the stages in a typical change management curve.  Here are pointers I give to my clients:

  1. Humans struggle with change. Recognize that sinking feeling that ‘this whole EOS® thing might not work’ is actually normal. That doesn’t make you, or anyone else on your team bad.  It just makes them human.
  2. Call it out. In EOS® we ‘enter the danger’ so make “Change Curve” an issue in your next Level 10 Meeting™. IDS™ the issue with your team.  Have people plot where they are on the change curve and identify what it would take to get them to a better place.
  3. Celebrate the small wins you’ve gotten so far from implementing tools such as the Scorecard and Rocks. Continually celebrate all of the new actions, attitudes and results you want to see become part of the way your culture and organization works.
  4. Reset expectations. While your team should begin to see some early signs of improvement, reset the expectation that you are on a journey that takes most teams about 18 to 24 months to become 80%+ strong in the Six Key Components™ and master every tool in the EOS Toolbox™.
  5. Identify tangible next steps each person on your team can take to move through the Change Curve as quickly as possible.
  6. Remember the Stockdale Paradox from Good to Great. Jim Collins’ summarizes the Stockdale Paradox as “Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time, confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be.”
  7. Set the record straight regarding EOS® and the growing list of Issues to be solved. EOS® didn’t cause the issues.  Rather EOS® brings to light all of the issues you and your team have brushed under the rug for far too long.  The good news is that EOS® gives you the tools and ability to solve all of those issues.
  8. Celebrate and practice vulnerability-based trust, which means team members need to be genuinely open about their own mistakes and weaknesses. We cover this in every EOS® Annual Planning session, but if your team continues to struggle through all of these changes, it would be worth taking a look at the section at the back of Patrick Lencioni’s “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” book where Lencioni explains the Five Dysfunctions Model, paying particular attention to the first dysfunction – a lack of vulnerability based trust.
  9. Trust and believe in the EOS Process®. Thousands of entrepreneurs and their teams have gotten what they want from their business by fully and purely implementing EOS®.  Your business and team are not a unique snowflake – you’ve got the same kinds of issues as all other companies.  EOS® will work for your business.
  10. Recognize ‘what got us here, won’t get us there’. Ensure everyone on your team recognizes and believes that the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing.
  11. Learn from mistakes. Failure is the best teacher and a necessary steppingstone to a better future.
  12. Embrace continual improvement and reserving the right to get smarter.


There is a happy ending … for those who persevere

I’ve seen many leadership teams begin EOS® implementation being either significantly dysfunctional or largely ineffective.  I’ve had some teams gave up, choosing to not endure short-term pain for long-term gain, and ultimately abandon their entrepreneurial dream of running a truly great business.  But for the teams that persevere, believe they will get better, and put in the hard work of changing, they ultimately get what they want from their business and life.


So What? 

What’s stopping you from initiating the needed organizational change you know is needed for the long-term success of your business?


Next Steps

Visit and schedule a call with Tom Barrett to discuss how implementing EOS® would allow you to get what you want from your business.


About The Author

Tom Barrett is a Nashville-based Certified EOS Implementer™ and focuses on implementing EOS® with growth minded entrepreneurial businesses helping them to Clarify, Simplify & Achieve their Vision.

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