I admit it, I’m obsessed with HGTV. And I know I’m not the only one.

As I binge-watch episodes of Love It or List It, Flip or Flop, The Property Brothers and Fixer Upper, I am struck with the extraordinary parallels to our work facilitating organizational change.

A new design is useless if you don’t fix the underlying problems. Now granted, I’m under the influence of my incredibly tidy wife, but the crazy clutter and lack of organization endemic to the “before” footage seems to account for at least 80% of peoples’ issues with their homes. So while Hilary can come in and create an open floor plan, updated kitchen, and extra bathroom for the family, if they don’t know how to do the underlying work of keeping things neat, they’re going to be in the same “it doesn’t work” situation in short order.

What does this mean for organizations and change makers?

  • Understand the needs, habits and customs of groups and individuals experiencing change
  • Provide tailored development tools for moving from now to new
  • Be rigorous; put your design through several iterative feedback cycles before declaring success

If you don’t do the real work (and make the investment), you’re not going to get the payoff. I love watching Tarek and Christina take really awful places and turn them into something great. Their whole purpose is to flip a property and make money off it. “It doesn’t pay to be cheap,” as the saying goes. Yes, they have to stick to a budget, but if they don’t make the strategic investment in good design, they’re going to short change the potential payoff. That doesn’t mean they need every single bell and whistle and top of the line material, it does mean they need to be thoughtful and keep the buyer and market in mind as they make design choices.

What does this mean for organizations and change makers?

  • There is no short cut to engagement. Taking the time to understand engagement and how to do it well is an investment with tremendous returns.
  • Just because something is the ‘best’, it doesn’t mean it is the ‘best’ for your organization

Trust the process. Jonathan can make just about any house fabulous, but there’s a leap of faith required and sometimes it’s just too hard for the owners to envision where they will end up. But if they’ve seen the show and they like his aesthetic, then they’re better off going for the ride and trusting his judgment to make their home great. That doesn’t mean blind acceptance of everything – it means the owners’ job is to be clear about what they want or need, and then giving him the job of figuring out how to build it.

What does this mean for organizations and change makers?

  • Richly experienced process experts and facilitators are out there (hello!) – use them
  • With the right process and process owner(s) in place, focus on playing your position as well as you can, and encourage others to play theirs

Know what you do well, and be willing to do it in a new way. Joanna is an amazing designer. Seriously, will she please come do my house? Her typical style is a sort of country chic, rustic touches in a modern context. One of my favorite episodes is when they worked with clients who bought a mid-century modern house. Her husband Chip doubted she could shift her style enough to fit in that context, but she did it. She kept a lot of what she knows – a pop of color throughout, something that represents Waco, TX, where they are based, and natural accents – but delivered it in a new way.

What does this mean for organizations and change makers?

  • Push yourself and your organization to continuously grow and improve
  • Adapt and use the abundant tools readily available across disciplines to create new thinking and better solutions
  • If you’re feeling stuck, draw inspiration from anything and everything… even the television shows you love!