This will sound shortsighted, but when I first got pregnant I was really obsessed with maternity clothes. I remember going to one of those maternity stores, I think it was called A Pea in the Pod, trying on lots of stuff, and probably spending too much. My girlfriend Bryan tagged along to give me her opinion. As we were walking out of the store, I hesitated, saying "maybe I should go back for that other sheath dress, and maybe those color washed jeans, and the gray sweater, too." Bryan stopped me. "You know, it doesn't matter that much," she said, "You're not going to wear them that long. Before you know it you'll have a baby. And you're going to be so sick of the clothes you'll throw them all in the trash!"
It hit me then. I was going to have a BABY. I know it's crazy, but I had been so focused on pregnancy I didn't yet have my head around the new human being about to arrive! Babies show up here on earth without a suitcase. They need a place to sleep, and something to wear. I needed to start planning a baby's room, and setting aside funds for creature comforts like rocking chairs, bassinets, and onesies, not to mention the stuff every parent eventually wants to provide, like swimming lessons, saxophones, and a college fund.
Last night as I was driving by a store called Destination Maternity it struck me that when a woman is pregnant (the first time) she actually may believe for a short time, like I did, that the destination IS maternity. Hah! With those emotions kicking in, it's hard to get your mind past the changes in your body, never mind start shopping for car seats and checking on potential babysitters. Brain freezes won't allow you to think beyond where to find the prego version of skinny jeans.
Similarly, when big change is afoot inside our organizations, we often have trouble getting past the immediate. Nine months out is a long time, and a baby is just theoretical at that point. The feelings and emotions of the moment freeze up our brains and prevent us from planning for the enormity of matters in the not-so-distant future.
Just as every mother and father-to-be is jolted into new reality when the day arrives, so business leaders feel on day one of a launch or a major organizational change. That's why, right now, you need a plan. You have a lot of communicating to do before and after "Day One," or nobody will know what to do when the new baby comes home.
As a business leader, you have to get everybody ready for the new arrival and then keep them focused on the right tasks when the baby is awake in the middle of the night and people are exhausted. This is where your communication skills and plan come in handy. A plan and good execution will not only get your organization past exhaustion, it will enable them to do the things that allow that new "baby" to grow and thrive. Whether it's an acquisition, a new product launch, an IT conversion, or a global expansion, you need a communication plan and leaders who are committed to it.
By the way, we have an excellent white paper on M&A communication that you can read on our website.