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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See also Organizational Change for more related articles.

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MasteChanging How We Change: The Essence of Agilityry of the ability to adapt to unpredictable and changing circumstances is one way of understanding the success of Agile methodologies for product development. Applying the principles of Change Mastery, we can provide the analogous benefits in a larger arena. By exploring strategies and tactics for enhancing both the resilience and adaptability of projects and portfolios, we show why agile methodologies are so powerful, and how to extend them beyond product development to efforts of all kinds. Read more about this program. Here are some upcoming dates for this program:

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ConflConflict Resolution Skills for Leadersict is inherent in collaborative work. When conflict is constructive, it produces better outcomes. When it's destructive, it can be an insurmountable obstacle to success. In this program, we explore the connections between the outcomes of collaboration and conflict in both of its forms. And we emphasize the skills needed most by leaders. The leader's task is to manage conflict so as to ensure that the group achieves its objective with its capacity to collaborate intact, or even enhanced. Rick Brenner shows team leaders and team sponsors the techniques they need to manage team conflict for relationship safety and better outcomes. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Influencing Outcomes Without Authority
Your Influencing Outcomes Without Authorityability to influence others — whether upward, downward, laterally, or within a team — always depends on both the quality of your relationships with the people you influence, and on your perception and their perception of your personal power. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you the techniques for making things happen not by using formal organizational power, but by using informal, personal power. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Strategies for Leading Teams in Hard Times
When Strategies for Leading Teams in Hard Timesa project team is on task, the contributions of leaders are important, and little noticed. Sometimes the team encounters unexpected difficulty, or requirements change, or budgets are reduced, or any of a number of other things might happen. In these cases, the leader must make or facilitate decisions about how to respond or how to revise the plan. We get through it somehow. Hard times are something else altogether. Despondency, disillusionment, resource shortages, unexpected and severe failure of the plan, and toxic conflict can erode morale. How can leaders deal with such situations? Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Strategies for Technical Debt: A Workshop for Enterprise Leaders
TechnTechnical Debt Management for Enterprise Leadersical debt is more than mere IT jargon. It's a metaphor that refers to the accumulation of technical artifacts that really ought to be retired, replaced, rewritten, re-implemented, or, if absent, created. We can find technical debt in almost any system, including those that seem to be working well. So what's the problem? The problem is the "interest charges." Systems carrying technical debt are more difficult to maintain, more difficult to extend or enhance, and more difficult to use, than they would be if we "retired" the debt. This engaging and eye-opening program points the way to a path that leads your organization out of technical debt, to make it more adaptable, more transformable, and more agile. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Creating High Performance Virtual Teams
Many Creating High Performance Virtual Teamspeople experience virtual teams as awkward, slow, and sometimes frustrating. Even when most team members hail from the same nation or culture, and even when they all speak the same language, geographic dispersion or the presence of employees from multiple enterprises is often enough to exclude all possibility of high performance. The problem is that we lead, manage, and support virtual teams in ways that are too much like the way we lead, manage, and support co-located teams. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you how to change your approach to leading, managing, and supporting virtual teams to achieve high performance using Simons' Four Spans model of high performance. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
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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