In the typical Change Management orthodoxy, there is this notion that you have to identify so called “quick wins” in order to gain momentum for your initiative. I do not deny the importance of such early successes : it develops self-confidence in any project team and it builds credibility for the change program itself.
Nevertheless, I observe that it is much more challenging (and efficient) to design appropriate prototypes. In the way T. Brown from IDEO defines them, prototypes allow space for a real learning attitude, which include the possibility of mistakes and even failure. By promising quick wins, any change team puts itself in a position where there is no other option but to deliver performance – and only performance. This can lead to a level of stress that impedes learning dramatically.
In addition to that, if early results happen to be present, the cult syndrom can be feared, where a core team starts to believe that 1) it owns a definitive truth and 2) that what has been demonstrated at a usually small scale can be easily amplified to the large scale (which is never the case).
One of my clients often says : (S)he is right the one who is right at the end. And what we want is results – at the end. Even if during the journey and because of learning, results are not as beautiful as expected.