Last week’s blog took a deep dive into why Change is Hard But Worth the Effort. Change “requires a passion for doing things differently (which often means there’s a better way of doing things / a better solution / an innovation that improves results or efficiencies, etc.), the creation of new processes and muscle memory for your team, and a decision to not only implement the change but commit to its success (or failure) by tracking results.”

The first step is deciding to change. That’s often at least half of the battle. Decisions, however, do not come to fruition without action. Change is a process. A few years ago, I read Spencer Johnson’s #1 bestseller, Who Moved My Cheese? It’s a parable that reveals truths about how we deal with change.

In the book, two little people and two mice are in a maze, searching for cheese (success). They learned how to navigate the maze to find the cheese. However, when the cheese was moved, the people became paralyzed by a process that worked prior but no longer; they focused on how they’d always done things, not on the end goal. The mice, however, focused on finding the cheese, which required doing things differently. They embraced change to achieve success.

We all react to change differently. Imagine a slightly flattened bell curve:

  • Far-right – Adversaries and Saboteurs
  • Mid-right – Laggards and Defectors
  • Right of center – Neutral Late Majority
  • Left of center – Early Majority Supporters
  • Mid-left – Early Adopters
  • Far-left – Innovators

The Early Adopters and Innovators are your Change Ambassadors. They’re excited. They’re cutting-edge, forging into new territory. They become your best promoters. They lead the charge.

Cancer treatment for dogs has traditionally consisted of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, sometimes referred to as ‘cut, burn, and poison’ with the goal to balance life extension with quality of life. Over time, hospital procedures have been refined and function like finely tuned machines. The ELIAS cancer immunotherapy (ECI®) treatment plan is different. It requires veterinarians and their teams to do things differently, to change processes and retrain muscle memory, and to believe in something before it’s embraced by all.

When we launched our first clinical trials, we felt like the mice – forging ahead to find a better treatment for canine cancer (success). As we traversed the maze, we knew that finding those Change Ambassadors was essential to successfully shift cancer therapy into a new direction. I’m grateful for the oncologists who courageously tried something that was new, that looked promising but didn’t have years of credibility behind it. They chose to maneuver into uncharted territory, to take calculated chances, to embrace innovation. They faced resistance, opposition, and sometimes hostility. But they consciously chose to move forward and persevere.

Change Ambassadors are how an organization implements successful change! Over time, what was once cutting edge becomes more normalized, and others will follow. Fifty years ago, the world was amazed that a computer could fit inside a room. Today, they fit on our wrists. One day, treating canine cancer with personalized immunotherapy will be commonplace, thanks to the embracers of change.

It’s not easy. As you traverse the maze, there will be dead ends. You’ll need to back up, regroup, and try again. Celebrate the small successes. Keep your eye on the goal. Thank those who believe in the vision. Change is hard but worth the effort!

Next week, we’ll tackle how to manage change.