How long to make a change permanent

A couple years ago when I was doing my Lean training, my mentor assigned me to read Womack and Jones’ book, “Lean Thinking.” The book is full of interesting ideas. If I ever loaned you my copy, you would find it filled with comments and post it notes about all the things I was considering as I read it. One particular quote that stuck with me was that it takes about five years of concerted effort to make a change permanent.

Five years seems like a really long time, and for some reason I was thinking about it today. So, I happened over to the bureau of labor statistics to get some data in median employee tenure. Interestingly, the median employee tenure is just under five years. That got me to wondering. Is it a grim reality that to make change permanent that we simply have to wait for most employees to turn over? After all, any new employees that come in are probably willing to try something new. Maybe the not so secret answer is that if you want to make change, simply wait for things to change. In the mean time, you’ll simply have to fight against the tide.

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