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Is it better to be the tortoise or the hare with organisational change?

Is it better to be the tortoise or the hare with organisational change?

Friday 25 March 2022

Is it better to be the tortoise or the hare with organisational change?

MEDIA RELEASE: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not Bailiwick Express, and the text is reproduced exactly as supplied to us

Or is it better to have the mindset of the tortoise with the pace of a hare? Dawn Rutherford, a Principal Change Architect from Marbral Advisory, has seen it all throughout her career in change management. Read her tips for success in this article…

As a child, I read the story of the tortoise and the hare. In short, the hare speeds off confident of a win but then stops for a nap, at which point the slow and steady tortoise overtakes him and wins the race! So, does this seminal tale also relate to business? Is it better to be slow and steady like the tortoise when embarking on significant organisational change or to be like the hare and risk a burnout? Do either of these styles actually guarantee success?

Unfortunately, not. Being slow and cautious does not guarantee success, nor does being quick off the mark. There are many additional factors that affect the right speed of change within an organisation, for example the actual complexity of the change, the organisation itself and, critically, the people.

Some organisations can innovate, design, develop and implement change very quickly, but they are few and far between. Most organisations now have a level of complexity, whether this is around IT architecture, processes, finances, structural hierarchy or culture. These organisations require a structured change management approach to ensure change is successful - no matter what the speed of the change. A structured approach does not necessarily mean large amounts of project documentation (although this does have its place) or that it slows the pace of change down, but it does mean that the change requires consideration, leadership, and engagement.

Having worked across a number of organisations, large and small, I have built my own tips for success, whether you are speeding to the finish line or taking it slow:

Communication – Strong two-way lines of communication. It is not enough to share your business plan and your vision (which is an absolute given if you want people to join you on your change journey), but you need to be prepared to listen and take on board their feedback. This does not necessarily result in changes to your plans, but it does mean you need to explain why not.

Leadership – I do not just mean executive leadership teams, of course they have a strong part to play in making organisational change decisions, but it is the influential middle layers of leadership that are key in organisational change success. They are the ones that can truly translate the vision, influence, and support their teams.

Clarity of the Plan – Being able to explain your change plan and provide regular honest updates on progress allows people to take control of the change that is impacting them. We are all unique, so a leader cannot assume or tell people how to react to change but should instead empower them with the knowledge to make those choices for themselves.

Wellbeing – Provide your team with the time to understand and talk about the change. Change can be stressful for some and empowering for others. There is no one size that fits all, but the wellbeing of your teams is critical to the success of the change.

Reinforcement – Change does not happen in organisations overnight (even if that was when a new system was implemented) so, to ensure that you make it stick, the communication and support needs to continue after the change has been implemented to ensure it is embedded and improvements are fully delivered.

In a time where everything in the world is changing, we all have a responsibility to look out for our colleagues and ensure we make the right decisions in terms of the speed of change in our organisations, whether that be 0.63 mph of a tortoise, or 50 mph of a hare, or somewhere in between.

If you would like to discuss change or project management services, please contact Dawn: or visit the website for more information: If you are interested in becoming part of the Marbral Advisory team, please contact Laura:


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