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Change is necessary. How can we make it fun?

Submitted by on Monday, 25 January 2010

These are heady days. Global business changes, environmental disasters, political upheavals. Change, Change, Change. Maybe it’s time to have another conversation about what change is. And at the same time, maybe discuss why it’s necessary to know how to change, since change is the only constant.

It’s a myth that change is difficult. Indeed, it’s not the change itself that’s difficult, it’s the underlying systems issues that balk, not the new idea or request. Here is why – and there is a very specific reason.

Systems – those interdependent rules, roles, politics, assumptions, and relationships, that make up the teams and families, companies and groups that we each belong to – are designed to operate as a whole, with all moving parts bought into the idiosyncratic rule that govern that entity.

To do that, it’s necessary for these systems to bond/work together like cogs in wheels. In fact, when any part of a system is out of whack, the entire system has to focus on, manage, and work-around that problem as it becomes a glitch in the system. Think of a time when a family member is ill, or someone on the team gets firedand there is no replacement… or a bad one.

Any time something is added or subtracted, a system will fight to remain stagnant, otherwise the entire reason for the system is in question. That means, any sort of change, whether a new product/solution, a new member with different beliefs of skills, a new rule, a new strategic plan, will put the entire system into some sort of defense. After all, the status quo is what ‘IS’ and the system will fight to maintain congruence. No matter what the reality is.

The problem with sales – and negotiating, and coaching, and advertising, and marketing – is that it pushes new solutions  (i.e. change) into an existent system without helping manage the elements that will need to change before the ‘new thing’ is accepted. So the system pushes back, even if it needs the new thing and is broken without it (don’t forget that the ‘need’ is already imbedded in the system and part of its daily functioning).

As we go through these ‘interesting times,’ let’s start thinking about the process of change. Current change management models are based on the details of the need and the efficacy of the solution. There is a lot of data gathering (generally biased) so the initiators ‘understand’ the need or the environment. But can an outsider ever, really, understand an environment – a system – that they are not part of? Even those involved have a hard time understanding themselves! Would the owner of a gym benefit from understanding why you don’t go as often as you should? Would you? Understanding a ‘need’ or offering a new idea or skill does not teach the system how to change. They are two different things.

Imagine if you had the skills to actually lead the systemic elements through their own change issues, so they can change from within, according to their own nuanced values, beliefs, rules, politics, and relationships; not as a provider, but as a change facilitator. It will actually give you more control, and truly help manage the change process.

Take a look at my Buying Facilitation™ method. It is not a sales toolbut a decision facilitation skill to help achieve buy-in. It is used to help meetings run smoothly, help work through fights or team problems or leadership issues or customer service problems. It can be a change management tool, a coaching skill, and a negotiating skill — all because the premise is systems based; until or unless an underlying system of any kind, will open for, and accept change, it will close ranks and maintain the status quo.

Let’s learn how to help real change happen. The interesting times we are now facing needs the help.

sd

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