Phil Collin’s “You can’t hurry love” is one of my favourite songs of the ’80s. And it is a song that came to mind as I woke up thinking abour organizational change. Well…read on, they do have something in common.

Phil Collins says

“My mama said
You cant hurry love
No, youll just have to wait
She said love dont come easy
But its a game of give and take
You cant hurry love
No, youll just have to wait
Just trust in a good time
No matter how long it takes

How many heartaches must I stand
Before I find the love to let me live again
Right now the only thing that keeps me hanging on
When I feel my strength, ooh, its almost gone

I remember mama said
You cant hurry love
No youll just have to wait
She said love dont come easy
Its a game of give and take
How long must I wait
How much more must I take
Before loneliness
Will cause my heart, heart to break”

Well, think about it in organizational terms. How long are we willing to stay true to our commitment to change? how many heartaches, difficulties, moments when you feel “why am I doing this” are we willing to live through before we give up, how long are we willing to nurture the people around us and help them go through it? How may seeds are we willing to spread in the hope one of them will blossom? How many times are we willing to take the punch, fall, but get up and start walking again? How many projects we are not willing to see through to success because we just cannot stand the course? How many good ideas are we willing to be responsible to see fail because we just do not have the courage to carry on?

In the case we looked at the other day here at IMD, we saw that for change to really “stick”, for culture to change deeply, for change to be adopted so that there is not relapse, it takes on average 10 years. Basic a generational change. Ten years of commitment, to ensure that just superficial changes in the “observable artifacts” trickle all the way down to the soul of an organization, to its DNA, to change those basic assumptions that are its foundations.

Ten years is a long time one may argue…. but if we know this is what it takes, we should have the honesty to only start those changes that we are willing to see through to success, otherwise just do not even start.

PS: thanks Simone for sharing with me today an example of how one of the pilots we started with our program is now bearing fruits…. yes, change can happen… just stay the course!