why change is the new normal


I had the pleasure of listening to and be outraged by a cleric who opened his sermon “…over the course of several millennia, nothing has really changed, there has been no progress that is meaningful and man faces the same challenges today as he always has”

The pleasure came from having such a provocative statement shake the way I think (always good for the soul) – and then compounded from a most unexpected source – in a small face to face meeting, me and about 12 other folks and Steve Ballmer where the prevailing complaint to him was “Microsoft is exhausting to work for because of the rate of change”. Steve pushed back on that with an argument that computer’s still operate in binary, the web is still HTML and the internet runs on TCP/IP same as it did 20 years ago and it was at this point I began to see the truth of the cleric’s point of view.

why change is the new normal (c) 2011 James StanbridgeIt is not really change that exhausts us, is is the shrinking, ever shorter attention spans and the need to be agile that is hard to keep pace with but accepting that really nothing significant has changed at all will keep you sane.

These then are the tenets of change as I have discovered:

  • Change is a label for a thing called opportunity. Opportunities multiply as they are seized
  • Nothing ever changes, except the label
  • Yesterday you needed for yourself and your tribe to be fed, be healthy, to prosper, to serve purpose and to enjoy one another. You’ll need that tomorrow, come what may.
  • Change the method (label) often – but shoot for the same result all the time
  • Einstein is still right – The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results (change the method)

The core message of this post, along with the others this week must surely be that you cannot spend too much time in thinking about “what the result you are looking for?” Stay focused, prioritised on this and the changes of label or method you choose to achieve it.

I for one would not want to roll back the clock or technical progress where I was not as intimately connected to the world as I currently feel thanks to twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook etc. – the price I have to pay is the attention span I can have for such an enormous constituency and fluid change of agenda – but I have found ways to take energy from it and not just become drained by it. The secret is to jump in, Go! start now.

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UPDATE

And just in case you need more evidence of the changes (in this case over the past 50 years): http://www.ted.com/talks/roger_ebert_remaking_my_voice.html

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from wanting change to getting change


Full disclosure: I strongly prefer revolution to evolution. Generally speaking, events roll slower than I would like and with less drama than I would prefer. Perhaps because of this I have developed

  1. the veneer of patience
  2. effective strategies for getting change implemented.

sidebar: I do believe that evolution is the natural state of the world, that left to itself, situations evolve. The revolutionary can have an impact as a force for change that occurs more radically, fundamentally or profoundly; which is something I can’t help but be drawn to

I’ve had many conversations with colleagues who are nervous, anxious about change, even change they deeply desire but seem unable to embrace or execute. Of course, part of the problem here is that we all call for change, can think of things we wish were different but the catch comes when that change requires we change ourselves! Barak Obama famously won election to President of the USA on a “Change” ticket – and is feeling the full backlash of an expectation that stuff would therefore change, but is almost wholly unable to influence individuals to change their own behaviours.

  • Know what you want (answer this question: “What do I want?”)
  • Invest in self awareness so that you can make yourself available to what really matters to you and that you can model the change you want
  • Build followership and alliances that support and energise your change

Let’s start then with wanting change – look around you 360 degrees and boil to one theme that captures what you want to change. I’ll use something by way of example that I hope resonates; as I look around me, I want to change the level of trust that colleagues have in one another to move from ‘functional’ to ‘high’

I’ll assume you have a good baseline or metric to determine the current state – I have internal poll data that I would use.

Now for getting that change implemented, Go First! in no other aspect of the leaders practise is it so important to lead from the front and model the behaviour you desire in others yourself. In the example I have used, trust is about being predictable and reliable (see separate posting on Trust)

Make yourself available to the situations you take most energy from as a default. In the example I used here, building trust means investing in situations that have trust as a defining theme or issue and diving in to really expose difficult issues and address resistance or head-in-the-sand avoidance head on.

Don’t be shy – talk about what you want often and with passion, make clear your vulnerability. Keep your eyes and ears open, as you speak and write about trust you should spot where you can build alliances with engaged colleagues around you. Enlist! Enthuse! Energise!

References:

[The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team]

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Bruce Patton

Permalink: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/014027782X

@Yodaism: “If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are, a different game you should play.”

The bottom line on effect change is to know what it is you want to change which requires some degree of self awareness, following that go – start now!

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