I'm a big fan of the value of short-term wins in helping to support, and generate momentum for, change in companies. In Leading Change, John Kotter has a pithy summary of why they work. The role of short-term wins:, he says, is to (and I quote):
- Provide evidence that sacrifices are worth it: Wins greatly help justify the short-term costs involved
- Reward change agents with a pat on the back: After a lot of hard work, positive feedback builds morale and motivation
- Help fine-tune vision and strategies: Short-term wins give the guiding coalition concrete data on the viability of their ideas
- Undermine cynics and self-serving resisters: Clear improvements in performance make it difficult for people to block needed change.
- Keep bosses on board: Provides those higher in the hierarchy with evidence that the transformation is on track.
- Build momentum: Turns neutrals into supporters, reluctant supporters into active helpers,
He goes on to say that a good short-term win needs to be visible (so that large numbers of people can see for themselves whether the result is real or just hype), unambiguous (so there can be little argument over it) and clearly related to the change effort (so the context is clear). Significant issues can occur when a change programme does not systematically plan for the creation of short-term wins.
Makes a whole bunch of sense.