Pinterest fails and OCM proficiency

Prior to my focus on Organizational Change Management, I spent years in training and development, primarily in the hospitality industry. Time and time again I would be approached by managers and supervisors who told me their employees needed more training. The employees in question weren’t abiding by service standards and they wanted to send them back to any training they could. There is a book I recommended to many operations leaders called "Training Ain’t Performance", by Harold Stolovitch. Training, I coached them, would not fix their problem. The employees needed support and feedback and consequences if they chose to ignore the standards.


I find myself having similar conversation in change management. Senior leaders are frustrated that they aren’t seeing the business results they expected as a result of the technology implemented or streamlined process. “We sent a memo about what is changing,” they exclaim, “we put up posters!”

As children learn a new task, we encourage practice. We monitor minutes practicing a new instrument and drive to soccer practice a few times a week. We drill multiplication tables and spend nervous hours in a car with a 15 year old and their learner’s permit. We preach the value and importance of practice.

Somewhere along the way as an adult in the business world we have forgotten that nobody is good at anything the first time. That includes whatever new process, technology or behavior an organization is implementing. I’ve witnessed companies make strides in creating awareness for an upcoming change, but little to no regard is spent on proficiency.

These days I speak to a lot of managers who are leading change efforts. A few years ago I began using Pinterest as an illustration for the difference between awareness and competency and it’s always well received, so I thought I would share that here. If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, it is a virtual bulletin board where you can save pictures from all over the internet on any topic you’re interested in. Most of my boards focus on cooking, baking and crafts. There are so many beautiful ideas and inspirational pictures out there. Not long after Pinterest became popular “Pinterest fail” did too. People like me who tried to make the beautiful inspiration project only to come up short. Do a quick Google search of Pinterest fail and you’ll find hundreds of projects gone badly.

I bring these up in sessions not to poke fun at the people who tried. I bring up these pictures to demonstrate that we need practice. Look at the picture of the cupcakes with this post – clearly the person had awareness!  They had the right tools: the cupcake pan, the blue icing, the ingredients. They did a lot of things right. If they made these again I imagine they would take the cupcakes out of the pan and let them cool before frosting them.

When you just send the memo, or have one information session about a change, you end up with a Pinterest fail. When you insist they need more training without first providing feedback and support you get a Pinterest fail. We need to allow for feedback and time to build proficiency. Nobody is good at anything the first time they try.

                   Sarah Sontheimer

                  Sarah Sontheimer

Organization development professional specializing in Organizational Change Management. Use change management strategy, planning, and methodologies to lead end users to successful adoption of business initiatives. Proven success in needs assessment, training design, collection and analysis of feedback and results, facilitator development and operations management. Subject matter expert on employee coaching. Business experience allows for promoting growth of organization financially while collaborating with operators to simultaneously exceed in customer service. Creates effective teams who are able to drive organizational success while integrating brand awareness into all training, always focused on company strategy and direction.