On The Issue Of Change - Get a Grip!
...and I Mean That In The Nicest Possible Way

Is there any topic in the corporate world more over-done, more misunderstood, more aggravating - than change?

We've all been constantly changing since our conception and yet one could come to the conclusion (given our histrionics) that a mysterious fog called change has suddenly morphed out of nowhere and begun to strangle earth's inhabitants.

We treat it as though it were some evil anomaly within the human race, some unhappy circumstance born out of original sin that we just have to learn to live with.

Our obsession with change is as ludicrous as saying to someone, "I'm really sorry that you have to keep breathing everyday."

Get a grip! We've got to breathe. We've got to change. That is what life is for!

No change means you or your organization is dead. It's that simple.

How we often approach change brings added aggravation. Or is it aggravation that brings added change? Maybe it's both. Either way you end up with aggravation in the equation.

Here is what I think the problem is.

We try to bring about change by manipulating our structures, systems and strategies - and never stop to realize that all change must first be spiritual change.

Surely you have found this to be true.

When we, in our heart of hearts, want to do something different - nothing is too big an obstacle! No mountain too high! No valley too wide!

On the other hand if we don't want to do it, and don't understand why we need to do it - we will set up a year-long task force on how to jump a crack in the sidewalk! Climbing a mountain is totally out of the question. Everything becomes an obstacle.

The lesson is that the birthplace of change happens in our spirit, in the desires of our heart. When the spirit is right, virtually any change will work. When the spirit isn't right - nothing works!

Many of our corporate leaders think that just because they have a detailed strategic and tactical plan, and because they want the change, people will jump on the change wagon.

Not so!
Here is the phrase I want everyone to memorize - particularly if you are in a leadership position:

When people plan the battle, they don't battle the plan!

It is vital for any successful and joyful change that you prepare the spirit before your prepare the strategy.

You can do that in several ways:

1) Go overboard in explaining the situation (the situation not your solution) that is prompting you to consider change and test out your assessment with those actually in the situation. When people don't know the "why?" of change, they will fight you every step of the way.

2) Give people a chance to create solutions and new opportunities for you. Do not assume that they don't have great ideas just because there is nothing in the Suggestion Boxes! You don't have to be the one to fix everything!

3) As much as possible, put the people in charge of change. Let them do the driving - it will be much easier on you in the long run and you can get home in time for dinner.

4) Do your best not to get into the implementation phase until you feel an excitement and readiness for the change on the part of the majority of people. The reason rock concerts always start late is that the delay generates excitement and energy. Start your change concert when people begin to chant for it.

5) Constantly remind people of the prize at the other end. Sell the benefits of the change! Benefits! Benefits! Benefits!

Change is a Dance!

Years ago I was part of a regular Project Management Program one of my clients required every manager to go through. It was a week-long course, and quite intensive. As you would guess, and have probably experienced, in any week-long program Thursday night is party night!

You will also understand the responsibility I felt as a senior faculty member to ensure that the participants found the party location safely and that they felt cared for. It was my duty to go with them.

The man who actually ran the course was Bill. He went too. But the trouble with Bill was that, once dinner was over and we went to where there was music and dancing, he would dance only to the slow music. In most clubs that meant Bill was limited to dancing to the national anthem.

So, while the rest of us were out there giving honor to John Travolta, Bill sat waiting for the slow one.

I learned some things about change during my Thursdays with Bill.

First, sometimes we are not in charge of the music in our lives. So does that mean we just sit in the corner and focus on our impotency? I hope not!

Second, it's easier to change to the music if you are already on the dance floor and already in motion!

And third - staying on the dance floor means you've always got a partner. And that is where the joy of change is to be found - in creating change together.

The following quotation must be printed at the conclusion of each reprinted article:
"Copyright The Ian Percy Corporation."
Ian Percy is one of North America's most inspirational speakers.

Ian Percy is an international speaker and consultant and can be reached at www.ianpercy.com


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