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:

Penguins look before they leapLook Before You Leap
When we execute complex organizational change, we sometimes create disasters. It's ironic that even in companies that test their products thoroughly, we rarely test organizational changes before we "roll them out." We need systematic methods for discovering problems before we execute change efforts. One approach that works well is the simulation.
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When we undertake change, we're usually surprised at the effort and cost required. Much of this effort and cost is necessary because of the nature of the processes we're changing. What can we do differently to make change easier in the future?
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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?
A diagram of effects illustrating these two loops in the Restructuring-Fear CycleThe Restructuring-Fear Cycle: I
When enterprises restructure, reorganize, downsize, outsource, spin off, relocate, lay off, or make other adjustments, they usually focus on financial health. Often ignored is the fear these changes create in the minds of employees. Sadly, that fear can lead to the need for further restructuring.
A diagram of effects illustrating two more loops in the Restructuring-Fear CycleThe Restructuring-Fear Cycle: II
When enterprises restructure, reorganize, downsize, outsource, lay off, or make other organizational adjustments, they usually focus on financial health. Here's Part II of an exploration of how the fear induced by these changes can lead to the need for further restructuring.

See also Organizational Change for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

The end of the line for a railroad trackComing May 30: Chronic Peer Interrupters: I
When making contributions to meeting discussions, we're sometimes interrupted. Often, the interruption is beneficial and saves time. But some people constantly interrupt their peers or near peers, disrespectfully, in a pattern that compromises meeting outcomes. How can we deal with chronic peer interrupters? Available here and by RSS on May 30.
Mohandas K. Ghandi, in the 1930sAnd on June 6: Chronic Peer Interrupters: II
People use a variety of tactics when they're interrupted while making contributions in meetings. Some tactics work well, while others carry risks of their own. Here's Part II of a little survey of those tactics. Available here and by RSS on June 6.

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The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:

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