Two Types of Small Wins

The Center for Applied Research (CFAR) had prepared a fabulous three page briefing sheet “Small Wins–The Steady Application of a Small Advantage” differentiating two types of small wins in change management.

The first type, what they call the little victory, is what we typically think of when we discuss Step 6 (Create Short-Term Wins) of Kotter’s 8-step change method.  These wins produce a feeling of success, but rarely translate into sustained modification of the behavior of the people involved.  They are moments, not shifts; useful but not transformational.  They are a key to keeping motivation up, and in that sense necessary, but not sufficient.

The second type, what they call the small-but-steadily-applied-advantage, produces a modification in the way the people involved interact with each other.  These wins are both necessary and sufficient.

In the sense of Kotter’s 8-steps these wins aren’t part of a step at all, but are instead a mechanism through which you make the 8-steps work. Driving change is one small-but-steadily-applied-advantage that readers of this blog know well.

Show me an implementation team with at least one person who is aware of the benefits of driving change over driving people (and chooses to act on that knowledge) and I’ll show you a successful team.  That one person can pull the group to better performance, whether through their positional influence (more directly) or their language, behaviors, and questions (less directly).

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the CFAR briefing sheet.

H/T to Ralph Soule for showing me the briefing sheet.

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