File under Implementation, interrupted

A team leader can do a lot of things right.

  • Communicate a vision.
  • Create a sense of urgency.
  • Create a team to drive change.
  • Build and communicate the action plans.
  • Remove barriers by creating clear guidance.
  • Coach people through changes in practice.


Suddenly the process stalls in the middle of what seemed like a sound workflow. Sometimes, it even gets derailed, crashes, and falls apart.

So we scratch our heads, if we haven’t already torn our hair out, and wonder, What happened? 

The complexity of implementation in schools is a lot more intricate than a single blog post can address. In fact, a lot of books have been written and are being written on change leadership. If you search using this term on Amazon, results number over 10,000. The term change management yields over 20,000 results. It’s a topic that lots of people think, learn and write about.

Freshly pressed is a report “Striking Balance with Whole-Brain Leadership” (Accenture Strategy, 5 June 2019) which presents some ideas that might inform our implementation barriers. If you remove the business speak, the Accenture report might also be talking about other industries that are going through change, like education. (Is there an industry that isn’t these days?)

Three ideas are striking in the report.

The rise of the ‘Pathfinders’

There is a new group of people who are ‘Pathfinders’ and these are employees and customers who are “ready to partner and help to write the blueprint for the future” (Accenture, p. 7).

The Pathfinders apparently are not a typical segment of the population. Below is the description of Pathfinders.

Screenshot from the Accenture report, 5 June 2019 describing Pathfinders.

The report described these folks as expecting a “whole brain engagement and management style” from their leaders. They also want a style that “balances traditional, left-directed skills that draw on data and analytics with non-traditional, right-directed skills that focus on human-centred capabilities such as empathy, self-awareness and intuition” (Accenture, p. 9)

‘We need these skills’

Senior leadership executives interviewed in the study report that they were educated with a sequential, analytical, linear approach to process leadership whereas the key skill clusters in today’s context requires these:

  • Creative thinking and experimentation
  • Ability to synthesise diverse thinking and viewpoints
  • Creating an inclusive team environment
  • Empathy and self awareness
  • Intuition
    (Accenture, p. 10)

82 percent of the senior leaders interviewed for the Accenture report share that they aim to use the skills they identified lacking in the balance they seek.

We need to redesign organisational DNA

The report suggests that getting the balance in organisational leadership “requires a very well-rounded set of skills across the right and left brain that are proactively and deliberately baked into the DNA of the organisation” (Accenture p. 18).

These three points in the report highlight the provocation into a fresh way of thinking about change leadership. What this perspective suggests is that organisational change is possibly very closely linked to individual transformations. 

That to change the environments we inhabit, we may need to change our minds.

John Schaar once said,
“The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made, and the activity of making them, changes both the maker and the destination.” 

John Schaar

This provocation into change leadership suggests that if organisations are to bake into the DNA a balanced, thoughtful and lasting impact, we may need to approximate this design in our day to day thinking and action. These actions create patterns, and the patterns create the whole.

I call this the Cauliflower Principle. Cauliflowers are designs made of fractals, small patterns that repeat again and again until they create the whole.

The fractals that create the whole is the DNA of something in manifestation. Whatever we have created as the patterns in our organisations that make up the whole.

So, what happens when implementation gets derailed?

Implementation, interrupted may begin with how people think. 

We know that change gets harder when it means we have to change ourselves.

If the most compelling thought is that this is too hard, perhaps we might consider that implementation stops at the point where an individual chooses not to change.

Perhaps implementation of our futures depends upon the pivot inside our minds.


Lacy, P., LaVelle, K., & Zamora, A. (2019, June 5). Striking Balance with Whole-Brain Leadership: The New Rules of Engagement for the C-Suite. Retrieved June 6, 2019, from

Featured Photo: Point Reyes Shipwreck by Francisco Delgado on Unsplash

Author: alavina

Cognitive Coach and author. I simplify personal power so you can use mental resources and find pathways to your goals, be more productive and feel in control every day.

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