Practicing change

Those you who have worked with me know that I thrive on change.

My mother once accused me of moving every few years because I enjoyed it. I do. I liked being a newspaper reporter because I frequently got to work on a different story every day.

I think change keeps you flexible, and quick, and alive.

But as much as I like change, I don’t like being in groups that are contemplating change. Too often, they remind me of people at the beach, who approach the water’s edge, stick in one toe, and repeat the process dozens of times before they finally lumber into the depths.

Five minutes later they are splashing around raving about how fantastic the water is.

Watching them drives me crazy.

I’ve been working recently with several groups grappling with change, and have these observations:

  • Most people resist change and want to protect the status quo.This is so fierce, it must be instinctive.
  • The same people who spend hours trying to block change and predicting its dire consequences are often perfectly happy with the state of things after the change they opposed has taken place.
  • Sometimes change comes about through persistent lobbying and mediation, but often it happens because a couple of people with hides like armadillos, plenty of energy, and a good sense of timing, push the changes through.
  • Sometimes change happens because the biggest opponent of change dies, or leaves town, and suddenly the culture of resistance he’d been nurturing just dries up and blows away.
  • The element people want to change (or to keep the same) is related to a lot of other elements that very few people think about, or perceive. Once the primary element changes, lots of other factors change. Whole new vistas open up — including some pretty scary ones.

4 responses to “Practicing change

  1. Machiavelli’s comments about resistance-to-change are still worth reading. Of course, since he, ahhh, blogged this in 1513, he was referring more to political change than to technological change.

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  2. Don, this post may come back to haunt me. Less than 12 hours after I wrote it, I was presented with a professional opportunity that would require some big changes. I will, indeed, consult with Machiavelli.

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  3. Pingback: Change, part 2 « Writer Way·

  4. Pingback: Decluttering your organization — taking the lead | Writer Way·

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