Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 2, Issue 12;   March 20, 2002: Change How You Change

Change How You Change

by

In the past two years, your life has probably changed. Do you commute over the same route you did two years ago? Same transportation? Same job? Same company? Same industry? Change is all around, and you're probably pretty skilled at it. You can become even more skilled if you change how you change.

In the past two years, your life has probably changed. Do you commute over the same route you did two years ago? Same transportation? Same job? Same company? Same industry? Do you live in the same home? With the same people? You probably answered "No" a few times. Change is all around, and you're probably pretty skilled at adapting to it. You can become even more skilled if you change how you change.

Steppingstones in Pompeii

Steppingstones in Roman Pompeii. Photo (cc by-sa) by Norbert Nagel/Wikimedia Commons.

Organizations have discovered — actually they paid big bucks to be told — that if they educate employees about Change, the organization can change more effectively. But some organizational change training lacks sufficient emphasis on improving personal change skills. Here are some tips to help you improve your personal change skills.

Accept the letting go
To change, you must let go of something. It might be something you want to let go of, or it might not. Letting go is like crossing a rushing stream on steppingstones. To get to the next stone, you must step off the one you're on. To become skilled at change, you must accept the letting go.
Feel the tug pulling you back
That next steppingstone will be unfamiliar — you must learn which parts of it are dry and which parts are comfortable. And you'll wonder where to go next. All this can be unsettling, and you might want to give up and go back. When you feel that tug pulling you back, recognize it as a natural effect of change. Resist the tug — choose your direction consciously.
Focus on the good
Organizational change
requires personal change.
They're inseparable.
If you're the change architect, you probably hope that everything will be better after the transition. On the other hand, if the change is forced on you by events, you probably fear that everything will be less bearable afterwards. Recognize that for every change, some things will be better, some things the same, and some things more difficult. No change is all bad or all good. Focus on the good.
Learn the new way
When you start doing things in a new way, you won't be very good at it. Judging the success of a change on the basis of early performance is often a rationalization for going back. Stick with it until you've learned, and until you can tell how well it works.

The next time you try to change something, practice these skills with intention. Expect difficulty, because you'll be changing two things at once: not only whatever you're trying to change, but also the way you approach change. The only time you can practice changing how you change is when you're changing something else. Go to top Top  Next issue: When You Make a Mistake  Next Issue

For more on the Satir Change Model, see "Now We're in Chaos," Point Lookout for September 19, 2001, and "Piling Change Upon Change: Management Credibility," Point Lookout for October 18, 2006.

101 Tips for Managing ChangeIs your organization embroiled in Change? Are you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt? Read 101 Tips for Managing Change to learn how to survive, how to plan and how to execute change efforts to inspire real, passionate support. Order Now!

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Related articles

More articles on Organizational Change:

European UnionNow We're in Chaos
Among models of Change, the Satir Change Model has been especially useful for me. It describes how people and systems respond to change, and handles well situations like the one that affected us all on September Eleventh.
Artist's conception of the Mars Pathfinder landing by bouncing on its airbagsTraining Bounceback
Within a week after we've learned some new tool or technique, sometimes even less, we're back to doing things the old way. It's as if the training never even happened. Why? And what can we do to change this?
R.M.S. Lusitania coming into port, possibly in New York.Obstacles to Finding the Reasons Why
When we investigate what went wrong, we sometimes encounter obstacles. Interviewing witnesses and participants doesn't always uncover the reasons why. What are these obstacles?
Demolished vehicles line Highway 80, also known as the "Highway of Death"Reactance and Micromanagement
When we feel that our freedom at work is threatened, we sometimes experience urges to do what is forbidden, or to not do what is required. This phenomenon — called reactance — might explain some of the dynamics of micromanagement.
Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Frank MurphyThe Passion-Professionalism Paradox
Changing the direction of a group or a company requires passion and professionalism, two attributes often in tension. Here's one possible way to resolve that tension.

See also Organizational Change for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

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Dogs make great teammates. It's in their constitutions. We can learn a lot from dogs about being good teammates. Available here and by RSS on April 26.
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Check-ins give meeting attendees a chance to express satisfaction or surface concerns about how things are going. They're a valuable aid to groups that want to stay on course, or get back on course when needed. Available here and by RSS on May 3.

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On 14The Race to the Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

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