An Interview with Jake Jacobs on Real Time Strategic Change

RTSC


I was delighted to catch up with Jake Jacobs, the creator of Real Time Strategic Change (RTSC), the approach that brings hundreds of people together to make collaborative decisions about their organization in real time, which I described in Try Collaborative Change for a Change.

I had an opportunity to ask Jake about how change has changed since he first developed RTSC.


Jesse: Jake, you wrote the first edition of your groundbreaking book Real Time Strategic Change twenty years ago. I’ve used RTSC many times over the years and am always impressed with what happens when you bring a large slice of an organization together to discuss issues and make decisions instead of putting them in an auditorium to be talked at by the corporate execs.

I’m curious what’s the largest group you’ve worked with?

Jake: It was a 1,000 person meeting held on the floor of the New Orleans Superdome. All employees of the oil company attended except for 200 that needed to staff skeletal crews on the oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. RTSC is about making real changes in real time. This meeting resulted in a new business direction that added $250MM to the bottom line of a $750MM business within 18 months.

Jesse: Impressive! And how has RTSC evolved over the years to deal with organizations with complex structures and where the people must connect virtually from all parts of the globe?

Jake: RTSC is about creating fast, far-reaching, and sustainable change. I’ve been looking at how the principles can be applied to coaching leaders and improving team performance to achieve whole systems change.

One of the RTSC principles is about planning for the future while living it at the same time. That’s what “real time” is about. We are continually looking for ways to shorten the cycle time between planning and implementation – the shorter that cycle time the faster change occurs and the more likely it is to stick.

For the last six months, I’ve been coaching the owner of a media company and working with some of the teams helping them implement the RTSC principles. Now when they make a decision, some aspect of it is implemented immediately.

Also, because they now hold a “whole systems” perspective, they created a cross-functional team to deal with issues that had previously been a source of frustration because of lack of collaboration among the sales, edit and production staff. During their first meeting they realized they had not included a key person, so they stopped the meeting, went out and found him, and invited him to join.

Jesse:  What would you tell leaders or consultants who are involved in change or who are thinking about it?

Jake: First, pause and take the time to get clear about your preferred future – this holds for any work you are doing.

Second, RTSC is about what happens in daily work. it doesn’t have to be tied to a major transformation effort. Sometimes what we consider small, largely unimportant actions have great meaning. Every win gives you the time money, energy and political capital to achieve your next round of investments.

Early wins are not always the easiest wins. They’re the wins that matter the most that you need to achieve quickly. These deliverables increase the “believability index” for people. Consider what results will grab people’s attention? Be strategic. Make changes today that matter the most for the organization tomorrow.

RTSC, at its core, is about accelerating and sustaining better ways of translating strategy into better, more aligned ways of doing daily work.

 


Subscribe To Jesse Lyn Stoner's Blog

It's free! Enter your email and this weekly blog will arrive in your email box.
Rest assured your email will never be shared. You can unsubscribe anytime.

4 comments to An Interview with Jake Jacobs on Real Time Strategic Change

  • Thanks for this. I especially like Jakes thinking on fast wins: ‘RTSC is about what happens in daily work. it doesn’t have to be tied to a major transformation effort. Sometimes what we consider small, largely unimportant actions have great meaning. Every win gives you the time money, energy and political capital to achieve your next round of investments’
    When people see change at the personal level they engage in it. When they hear about it happening top down they cannot engage.

  • Hi Alan,

    I often talk with clients about “playing with house money” when we get into conversations about making the future happen faster. As new and better ways of doing business take hold, the returns on early investments start paying almost immediately off in ways large and small. For a player in a casino, this is called “house money” — free to the user as they’ve already made their initial investment back.

    You’re definitely spot on for me when you say that when people see change at the personal level they engage in it. Only hearing about it…whether it’s from the top, bottom or side does not get the job done well — or in many cases, at all. It’s the same deal for everyone. It’s been my experience that leaders who only hear about changes being made by others in the organization feel no more engaged in that work as the top down edicts serve as open invitations for others to roll their sleeves up and join in the work. I’m fond of the saying “We own what we help create.” It’s true for me in my work as well.

    As for the top down, bottom up points of view, I wrote a section on this in the Real Time Strategic Change book. In it I explored the benefits of top down, bottom up and what I called whole system changes.

    From an RTSC point of view, these can all add value. The principle of “Engage and Include” speaks most directly to this. In RTSC-land we take the wins that are available, wherever and however they show up. Sometimes the most engaging thing I believe is to be directive. Without a certain level of clear direction, participation can sometimes be more difficult. With it, people ca feel and be free to create their collective future, confident that their actions are aligned with the larger organization’s strategies. Likewise, leaders can feel and be confident that the many moments of truth each day in their organization when people can act in aligned or unaligned ways are falling on the right side of that choice point.

    Thanks for your affirmation, thoughts and insight into what leads to fast and lasting change.

  • Len Oppenheimer

    We need Jake back in NY!
    Years ago you gave us the tools to make lasting measureable change and it has unlocked many doors for myself and fellow business owners. I still use them today, and shared what I learned with people who never met you. Every 2 weeks we talk by phone and 1 time each month in person. They swear it has done wonders for moving them to align their actions and values and ensure success. Incredibly powerful teachings Mr. Jacob’s. I hope one day to see you back again in NYC.

  • Hi Len,

    Thank you for the kind words. I have fond memories of our work together. A good part of why you and your colleagues got the value out of our work is that you did the work. Some of those tools we used I”ll be including in my upcoming RTSC Practicum. Those interested can sign up here .

    I’m really pleased to see you joining here Len and the strong endorsement!

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>