I seem to be re-learning all Project Management lessons from my children. After a session on perception management from Toyna, Yog taught me a very useful lesson on Change Management.
As Yog turned one year old, the pressure on me to give up infant practices and transition him into toddler ways started to build up. After his first birthday we took a small vacation and I made up my mind to start working with him on the transition, soon after we return. This meant weaning him from breast milk and formula to cows milk, stopping his bottle feeding and feeding in the middle of nights, not grinding his food and not having him watch TV while feeding. The list might seem simple to those who have never tended to babies, but I am sure most mothers would relate to how painful the transition can be.
I knew a couple of days ahead would be rough, and I was emotionally and physically prepared to take the stress. The day we came back from the vacation we were all completely exhausted but I made sure I live up to my commitment of starting the transition. I hid his milk bottles, trashed the remaining milk formula and gave strict instructions to everyone not to grind his food. As I expected, Yog refused to cooperate. He vomited whatever he ate, refused to drink cows milk or even water without his bottle.
A few days of howling, scratching, kicking went by and I realized it was not what I wanted. I stepped back, trying to gauge what I was doing wrong. I made a list of what were the most important things that had to be addressed first, and which could probably wait for a while. The top 2 things in my list were – No to formula and grinding of food. So I started with this. I reintroduced the bottle, but with cows milk this time. I even added a little sugar to milk to try and get Yog hooked on to it. For feeding, I re-initiated the TV sessions and made food soft enough for him to swallow without grinding.
Yog liked the sweet milk and started drinking that from his bottle. Over the period of next few days, I reduced to quantity of sugar in his milk bit by bit and he was off sweetened milk after about 10 days. As he got settled with drinking cows milk, I tried introducing the sippy cups and doing away with the bottle again. This time he did not resist. In fact he liked the sippy cups because the flow of milk was much faster in that.
As for eating food, as long as his cherished nursery rhymes were on, he gulped whatever came in front of him. After about 10 days again, he was adept at eating soft food which had not been ground. Now we initiated the process, of skipping TV during feeds and slowly got him distracted with books, toys and other activities.
Yog is now almost 14 months old and I can say the transition has been complete and more or less successful. Through this whole exercise, I learnt the following lessons from Yog on change management:
1. Keep your priority list simple. Identify one or two things to address first before setting eyes on other priorities.
2. It is Ok to introduce small evils (like sugar), in order to get rid of bigger evils (like formula).
3. Change need not always be painful. It can be fun and exciting as well, if introduced in the right way (like sippy cups)
4. Successful change management is not so much about your level of preparedness, but more so about the level of acceptability in the recipients of the change. (just after tiring travel was a wrong time to start the transition)
5. Another learning, not necessarily about Change Management, but about hiring. When trying to hire good quality Project Managers, organizations should look at hiring women who have been mothers. Believe me they have lived through some extreme projects in their lives.