Do you know the speed limit at your organization? Did you even know there was one? Just to be clear, I’m not talking about driving your car through the company parking lot. I’m talking about the speed of change inside your organization. Let me share a brief story with you.

I was having coffee with a friend of mine, “John” and he described how frustrated he was with the overall resistance to change at his new job. “They are in the dark ages when it comes to technology,” he said. “They just don’t seem to understand, or want to understand what it is costing us and our customers. I keep trying over and over again to change things around here, but at every turn, I’m shut down.” In fact, John had been “pulled over” more than once this year by his manager because of his speed. You see, John is a Ferrari stuck on the residential roads that are his organization. He likes to let out his engine on projects and stop at nothing until things get done. And John is used to working at organizations that appreciate his speed. Unfortunately, his new organization is not the Autobahn. It is a historically slow moving organization that is resistant to change. The speed limit in the halls is closer to 35 mph, great for a leisurely drive around town, but not a good pace for John. So, here sits John looking into the next year with several options before him. One option is that he could find ways to break the speed limit and hope not to get caught (he is in danger of having his license suspended… and we all know what that means). Or John could accept the speed limit and drive his Ferrari 35 mph, knowing that slow change is better than no change at all.

Here are some important questions for you:

  • What is the speed limit at your organization? How quickly are you allowed to and expected to initiate change?
  • If you were a car, what car would you be? A Ferrari like John or perhaps something slower and steadier? Does your car adhere well to the speed limit in the halls?
  • If your manager was a car, what car would he or she be? Equally important as knowing the speed limit of the organization is knowing the kind of car your manager is. He or she will expect you to run at the same speed they do (and evaluate you accordingly).

Hopefully, you see a good fit across all three of your answers to the above questions, but in the case you don’t, the choices for you are simple: adjust your speed to accommodate the speed limit at your organization or find a different set of roads more suitable for you. After all, not everyone is comfortable driving 55.