In 2015, I walked away from a steady job and an awesome team. People said I was crazy. Hell, I questioned at times whether or not I was crazy. In many ways, it broke my heart to leave Red Robin Gourmet Burgers. And at the same time, it was completely necessary …
To be honest, I wasn’t at an intersection of walk or don’t walk. Rather, the choice I was facing was, “How fast should I run?”
Everyday, we hear the world is changing. But the strategies we use to lead our companies through change and innovation don’t seem to be changing at the same speed. There are plenty of battle scars to prove it: Gallup reports 70% of all change initiatives fail and that the US economy loses up to $150 billion a year due to failed IT projects. For me, this reality created a burning desire to help.
It wasn’t just about the stats though—I was also focused on the hard-working, well-intentioned people who are hurt when things go wrong. All they want to do is make a difference, and all I want to do is support them in their pursuit.
So, I left. Convinced that many of the conventional methods for supporting change were missing the mark, I set out on a journey to write a book and build my own Change Leadership company. To kick things off, I felt it was important that I get vulnerable by sharing a journal of stories and experiences about my own successes and failures. This is how People Before Things was born.
In the spirit of being vulnerable: I had no clue how hard it was going to be to write a book.
It’s not that I routinely suffered from writer’s block; those that know me would tell you I’m never at a loss for words. Instead, I had so much to say. This made it extremely difficult to organize my ideas and explain myself fully, without developing a doorstop of a manuscript.
The rewriting process was painful. I definitely threw away more than I ever expected I would. And if I’m honest, I have a bit of insecurity about the book not making a difference. I know there are many brave authors who say, “I don’t really care if readers like it or not.” For me, the stakes are much higher so I can’t take this position. Change is hurting many organizations and people, and I want to help.
So, here we are … People Before Things is finally done! The book is a reminder that our customers will never love us if our team members don’t love us first. And how we treat people during disruptive change determines if they’ll love us. This disruption comes in many forms, ranging from technology implementations to redesigned organizations to new policies and procedures.
I believe that change isn’t an end-user problem; it’s a leadership opportunity.
An English poet and writer, G.K. Chesterton, was once asked, “What’s wrong with the world today?” His answer was, “Dear sir, I am!” That’s what People Before Things is all about. It starts with leaders who are willing to accept responsibility for the conditions needed to be successful with change.
I hope you enjoy the book. More importantly, I hope it makes a positive impact on your organization. Onwards and upwards.
Chris Laping is Co-Founder & CEO of People Before Things, LLC, a boutique consultancy that helps executive and project leaders prepare people for technology change. He has also written a best-selling book, People Before Things: Change Isn’t an End-User Problem, which explores the role leaders play to pave success in change and transformation. To join the conversation, follow @CIOChris and @pplb4things on Twitter.