Friday, April 29, 2011

Implementations Like Silly Putty?

I have noticed that implementing change in organizations is a lot like Silly Putty. Silly Putty is bouncy and resilient (See the video below) as long as you pick it up and roll it around in your hand but if you just make a ball and put it on the shelf it goes flat pretty quick. OK, lets stop there and take a look at some real silly putty. 
In Figure 1 you see silly putty that I have put some energy into and you can see it is a nice round ball. 
In Figure 2 you can see what happens when you create a nice ball but then you just put it in place and don’t involve yourself with it going forward.

Now just in case you doubt that it bounces, take a quick look at the video again. 
Implementing change works the same way. First even if you create great new business processes or buy the best new system or tool they fall flat in mere days if you lose focus or quit putting some energy into them. If your initiative falls flat it takes a lot more energy and time to reform it and put it back in place.
Safety is a great example of this phenomenon. We put a little energy into our safety programs every day through daily tool box meetings, communications and other medias. As a result safety in manufacturing has increased every year in most industries. What do you think would happen if we took down the signage, removed the metrics and never mentioned it again? I am sure that within a few short months the trend toward safety would start to reverse. 
What new systems or business changes are you trying to make resilient and are you putting in that little bit of energy each day to make them successful?


  1. This post of Implementations Like Silly Putty is really great!

  2. Great analogy that I completely agree with. I believe that process is putty for sure. Its can be bent into most shapes but you need to keep at it or things dry, crack and yes sag