We are all familiar with the well-known ‘As-Is’ and ‘To-Be’ model. Whenever we talk about change in an organization, we will first assess the ‘As-Is’ situation and compare it with the ‘To-Be’ state that we desire to become in order to define the gap needed to reach the end state. We usually refer to this process as ‘Gap Analysis’. This can be easily visualized in the diagram below.
One major output from the gap analysis is the ‘Must-Do’ actions in order to transform the organization from the current ‘As-Is’ state to the future ‘To-Be’ state. This is the main source for all the changes required that will eventually turn into a list of tactical action plans. Projects targeted at changing processes, tools and people will be spun off to implement the changes so as to achieve the tactical objectives. The diagram below shows the relationships of all these put together.
Vision communicated, funds approved, project teams formed, and we are all set to embark on our audacious journey of the ‘Great Revolution’. So far so good... Everybody is so excited about the future and the challenging projects ahead. But wait! If you have paused for a second and taken a step back to think for a while, you will realize that something is missing in the diagram above. Are you able to tell what is missing?
Sometimes, we are just too eager to jump into conclusion on ‘what’ needs to be done to achieve what we want to be. More often than not, we tend to neglect our current capability and what we actually ‘Can-Do’. The consequence is we usually end up missing a lot of targets by aiming too far and too much. One good example is the New Year’s resolutions that we set every year. “I think the problem people have is that they often set pretty unrealistic goals,” said Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University, with regards to the reason why most people failed to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. If someone had done a research on the factors affecting failed New Year’s resolutions versus failed projects, we might be able to discover some correlations and interesting insights between the two. According to Ferrari, people should be realistic and focus on small wins and successes. Paraphrasing this statement, it means that we should set targets/goals that are both realistic and achievable in smaller chunks. What does it mean by ‘achievable’? To be achievable, the target that we set must be something that we can reach within our current capability and this is an implicit assumption that we often missed – i.e. we assume that we are able to achieve the target that we set without first assessing our current capability. This is the exact missing piece in the diagram above – what we ‘Can-Do’.
No doubt, we know and appreciate the value of “Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.” But this means that we would constantly miss our targets most of the time and would lead to undue demoralization and frustration. The situation usually gets worse if we repetitively experiencing misalignments between expectation (what we expect to achieve) and capability (what we are capable to achieve). Therefore, it is extremely important for us to ensure both our expectation and capability are always in sync. While defining what we ‘Must-Do’ in order to reach what we want ‘To-Be’, we should not forget to take into consideration on what we ‘Can-Do’ at the present ‘As-Is’ state. Putting all these together, we may arrive with an improvised model as shown in the diagram below.