I interviewed Constance Korol who discussed Why Change is So Hard, The Parallels of Ironman Training to Corporate Continuous Improvement.
Today I’m looking forward to hearing your views on why change is so hard. Also, you’re going to provide an interesting parallel with Iron Man training, and this is in regard to corporate continuous improvement. My first question is: Why is change so difficult?
Thank you, Dustin. Thank you for having me on the show, first of all. It was a pleasure to receive your invite. I’m so happy to talk about this topic because it’s something I’m really passionate about.
The first question: Why is change so difficult? I’ll put that, first, into my business experience. I’ve been in business planning for over 15 years. I’ve heard so many stories of companies trying to implement different processes and technologies, and at the end of the day, I’ve seen some really great salespeople do a great sales pitch with companies and say, “As soon as you implement this software, you’re going to see X, Y, and Z. Someone in IT will just implement that.”
But then there were so many missing pieces of the puzzle and building the foundation behind all of that. You really need to get—what I’m going to talk about is four things in place for a company and also for someone who’s training for Iron Man, which I will get to in a second, in order to put those things in place, put the bricks down as a foundation in order to really, really implement change and be successful with it.
Can you talk some about how it’s done?
Sure, Dustin. A little background about me. I have 15 years’ experience in business planning. I’m also an athlete. I’ve been a runner for probably 20 years. I’ve also been in triathlon for about 5 years now; this is my fifth season. I completed Iron Man, my first Iron Man distance triathlon race last year. For the folks out there, that’s a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and then you do a full marathon after that.
Needless to say, there’s a lot of training, a lot of months of planning, and a lot involved in order to do that, in order to make it to that finish line. It sort of is the same thing with continuous improvement at companies. I kind of want to just go through, if it’s okay, four steps of what it really takes to implement change for not only that athlete, but also that corporation that really is going to benefit from spending all that money, time, resources, effort, and all the talent they have to hire in order to back all that up to get really good success at the end of that project.
Dustin, I’ll start with number one, which is planning. It seems pretty simple; of course you have to plan. But that old cliché of fail to plan, plan to fail is so absolutely true. You really need to get a schedule in place. You need to have that roadmap down very, very clear, and you need to lay out that foundation. Whether you’re building a new Web site, whether you are looking to put in a new process in place in your company, or implement a new technology, the planning is really crucial.
I’ll parallel that with Iron Man training, where it’s seven months of training in a platform called Training Peaks. I have a coach; I listen to my coach diligently. He really analyzes all of my data between heart rate, cadence on the bike, how fast I swim, and looks at my continuous improvement and really talks through the areas of where I need to concentrate, focus in on, and really put more effort in.
I’ll sort of go a little back, where, when I was a runner for many, many years. I was a 2:10 half-marathon girl. I always did my half-marathons in two hours, 10 minutes no matter the terrain, what the weather was. I didn’t have a coach; I just continued to run like I always ran for every single year; year after year, race after race.
When I implemented a coach and a strategy and a plan and I did that before I started my training—before I ran, before I biked, and before I swam—that made a world of difference because we knew collectively that I was going to run better and I was going to bike better and swim better from the beginning of the training to that final race day. We were going to put the tools in place, the work ethic in place, and the plan that was going to make that happen. The plan is really important.
Dustin, I move on to number two, which is being flexible. At an Iron Man, you do your best to be so well-prepared, but anything can happen out there. Let’s say you get a flat tire. You have to be so well-prepared mentally to just handle those couple of minutes where you have to sit on the road, pull out that tire, inflate a new tube, put the tire back on. It’s only really a couple of minutes because, of course, you planned beforehand and knew how to fix that tire, but you really just have to gather your thoughts, be flexible, and go with it. Say to yourself, The five minutes that it’s taken me to do this is really okay. It’s something I can mentally handle.
Being flexible is so important, also, in being in corporate and having continuous improvement. There are always going to be bumps in the road. There are always to be challenges from upper management. There are always going to be people who are going to question you. “Why are you spending so much time doing this? Why are you spending endless nights working parallel, trying to implement change while you’re still trying to get your work done?” You’re going to always have these things come up, and you have to be mentally and physically flexible to handle all that pressure.
I move on to number three, Dustin, which is buy-in. In my experience with corporations, I’ve heard time after time, no matter what the company is trying to do for change, that it is a very big struggle and almost impossible without implementing change, without the support from sponsorships from the upper management, from the executive team, and from someone who’s really going to be a champion to see that project through no matter what happens. You really need to be savvy, and you really need to be very good with your relationships in order to make that happen. A buy-in is absolutely crucial.
I’ll parallel that with Iron Man. You’re going to need major buy-in from your family and friends, your husband, spouse, whoever, because you need tremendous support in order for you to follow through and execute that plan. I’ll take, as an example, this past Saturday. I spent 12 hours of training between swimming, biking, and running.
That was my whole Saturday. And then Sunday, I had to go out there and do it again—run 16 miles—and I’m not even at the peak of training. In order to execute that, you really need to have buy-in from the people behind the people who are with you, who support you, your family, friends. And then, again, in parallel, in corporations, you really need that upper-management support.
Finally, number four is really executing that pace of change. I mentioned to you before that I was this 2:10 marathon girl, which is sort of this 10-, 11-mile-a-minute pace. I really was just sort of doing the same thing over and over and over. Now, to really execute that pace of change on that race day or for that launch or project, it’s going to be easy if you put one, two, and three in perfect place, if you really have that plan that was well thought out, that you had the buy-in from the key stakeholders, you were flexible enough that when bumps in the road and flat tires came your way, you rose to the occasion.
Now it’s just a matter of presenting your gift, presenting your gift of training so ******* Iron Man Day and presenting your gift of what you did for that company and launching successfully. That’s really, really something that should be so easy and seamless on launch day or race day, because of all the time and effort and planning that you put in place in order to make that happen and make that successful.
Thanks, Constance. Is there any more information about yourself, background about yourself you’d like to include?
Thank you, Dustin, thank you so much for this time. I am actually now taking all my experiences, and I’m helping companies find their marketing strategies and their plans. I am now the CEO of iTwitterCoach, and you can find me on LinkedIn. I’m also training for my second Iron Man in Chattanooga, Tennessee, this year with my team TriGlobal Coaching. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this year’s training compares to last year, especially when I was putting all these things in place in order to see certain things happen and, again, the change happen.
About Constance Korol
Marketing and Communications Consultant/ Yoga Instructor for Children and Adults