Change Project 911: Help! My Change Team has lost its energy!

Mat Roosa, LCSW-R
NIATx Coach

Sometimes a change team can feel like a phone with only 2 percent battery life left. Some teams start with a full charge that drains through time. Other teams get started with a lower level of energy and go downhill from there. The challenge of COVID-19 and other competing priorities and stressors can quickly diminish a change team’s energy and divert attention from the change project.

The Fix:

  •   Let the data be the driver

A strong data collection process that gives the team new data to consider at each meeting can enhance interest in a project. Data that shows that a change is making a positive difference can be incredibly motivating!

  • Executive sponsorship

Leaders can support team enthusiasm by giving members time to complete the change project and promoting the team's work to the broader organization. NIATx Principle no. 2: Fix Key Problems is based on the idea that change projects that fix key problems important to the CEO are more likely to succeed than those that are less important to the CEO. Enthusiasm rarely wanes when change teams pick projects that are relevant to the most pressing needs of the organization. The project should address concerns that keep the CEO awake at night, including fiscal and other urgent matters, to ensure a high energy level.

  • Know when to quit

Some teams tend to keep hammering away on a project while achieving little. The concepts of diminishing returns and sunk cost (resources already invested) bias can be critical to deciding when to end a change project effort. The diminishing returns of ongoing efforts can lead us to conclude that we have maxed out the project's benefits and are better off moving to a new project, even if we have not reached our goal. Projects that have not achieved any measurable results can sometimes lead teams to continue their efforts, as they do not want to waste their sunk costs. Team leaders can help shift the team toward framing the lack of progress as a critical lesson learned, and then moving the team toward a new project.
The support of someone experienced with the rapid-cycle change model can help you decide when it is time to end a change project and strike out in a new improvement direction. 

About Change Project SOS

Change Project SOS is a monthly blog post series covering common change project barriers and how to address them. Has your change project hit a wall that you're not sure how to tackle? Share your story in the comments section below, or email Change Project SOS at We’ll offer solutions from our team of change project experts!

About our Guest Blogger

Mat Roosa was a founding member of NIATx and has been a NIATx coach for a wide range of projects. He works as a consultant in quality improvement, organizational development and planning, and implementing evidence-based practices. Mat also serves as a local government planner in behavioral health in New York State. His experience includes direct clinical practice in mental health and substance use services, teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and human service agency administration. You can reach Mat (Change Project SOS) at

Welcome the New ITTC Network by Attending its Virtual Launch Event

The new International Technology Transfer Center (ITTC) Network develops and strengthens the workforce, organizations and systems that provide substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery support services across the world.

Much like ATTCs, ITTCs are based in universities and research centers, and they utilize a variety of strategies to accelerate the implementation of scientifically-based and culturally appropriate practices. ITTCs currently exist in South Africa, Ukraine and Vietnam, with more countries being added in the near future. These Centers are brought together in a coordinated network through the leadership of the ITTC Network Coordinating Office in partnership with the International Consortium of Universities on Drug Demand Reduction (ICUDDR).

An exciting and informative virtual event to officially launch the ITTC Network is scheduled for 8 a.m. CST, Feb. 24, 2021. All are welcome to attend and learn more about the ITTC model of technology transfer, hear about the experiences of the existing ITTCs, and meet the network’s leaders and key stakeholders.

The ITTC virtual launch event will be held in English with simultaneous translation into Spanish. To find out what time the virtual launch event begins in your city, use The Time Zone Converter:

Renowned implementation science expert Dean Fixsen, PhD, will serve as the keynote speaker for the virtual launch event.

The National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) in Abu Dhabi is hosting this virtual event. The future home of United Arab Emirates ITTC, the NRC is already a leader in promoting the adoption and implementation of science-based prevention, treatment and recovery services in the UAE and throughout other parts of the Middle East. ICUDDR and the existing ITTCs are honored to include NRC in the ITTC Network.

Registration for the ITTC virtual launch event is now open via Zoom. You can also RSVP for the event on Facebook, and like and follow the ITTC Facebook page for updates and news from the network.