Last week I was driving along listening to music when Tori Amos’ Beauty of Speed came on. I love the beat and rhythm of that song and the title is intriguing. For me that’s about enough to turn the volume up and disappear into the music for a while. However this time for some reason the lyrics jumped out at me and got me to thinking about change, especially change in organizations. Maybe it was the time of year here in Ontario, Canada where the leaves are changing as fall takes a firm hold, or maybe it was that our organization has gone through a lot of change lately. Whatever the reason, the following are some musings on change stimulated from snippets of the lyrics from that Tori Amos song
We climbed through the canopy
only to find a crack in our gauge.
I think an awful lot of our gauges concerning change are seriously cracked and probably totally broken. Of the 63 million plus links that come up on a Google search for change management I would surmise that most of them illustrate a step by step process that if done just right will lead us through the canopy to a beautiful mountaintop view of our wonderfully changed organization. Yet it’s reported that 80% of all change efforts fail. It would be kind of tough to figure out which of the 20% of that 63 million links might be the good ones. Perhaps better to just throw them all out.
Smacked upside of the head
with the harsh of daylight.
Most of us have felt this as we diligently try to implement the next and best change management model. We get to oh, step 3 and then it hits us that things aren’t going quite like they’re supposed to. People are resisting, something unexpected happened; all sorts of things never laid out in the model. Now you are stuck since you only have three responses. One, you didn’t do the steps correctly so you are wrong. Two, the people you are working with didn’t follow your directions so they are wrong. Three, the steps in the model you are using are wrong. Typically it depends on how much power you have in the situation which determines which of those 3 responses get acted on, but more often than not it’s two or three.
Afraid we’ve been changing
in a way I wasn’t loving.
Most change management models assume that people will resist change (unless the outcome is beneficial for the person – but that’s typically not called change) and that resistance must be managed. I have yet to see any change management model that can do this when people are ‘afraid’ and not ‘loving’ what’s happening to them. It’s messy, complicated, unpredictable and certainly not a ‘step’ in a linear process to an end point. It requires interaction with people and that process can take any number of pathways.
Feel those colors changing
The beauty of speed
I was reading some blog posts the other day on the merits and problems of Lean, Agile and 6 Sigma. The discussion was about which dealt with the ‘people’ aspect of the change that implementation of these processes created. Regardless of the passion the comments held, all of them separated out the ‘people’ as if they were something to be managed within the process. Lean, Agile, 6 Sigma etc. simply do not exist without people, and people cannot be separated out from them. These processes are nothing more than thinking tools and when change happens, we ‘FEEL those colors changing’. When there’s talk of the people aspect of change, I think they most commonly are thinking about people’s heads. Unfortunately people come with bodies too, loaded up with visceral inputs and outputs.
The beauty of speed. Change happens and most times it happens at a speed we cannot plan for or predict. There is a certain beauty to this I think in that no matter how much we want to have control over change, we only have a small amount. And that amount of control plays out in the local interactions we have with those around us, and even then it is highly unpredictable. If we focus on those local interactions we can move forward in the change together, or perhaps be left behind. The world will move on however.
Even still I was built
to tolerate your temper – ature
It fluctuates so I must break
through the bleak of winter
Nice to think about us being built to ‘tolerate your temper – ature’. If we look back over history it is a testament to how tough we can be as we move through and in change. The bleak of winter just might be all those change management models that seem to endlessly show up calling for us to use them. Maybe we can break through the use of them and interact seriously with people when we are in change. Because that is where change happens, in the interactions between people; taken seriously……. Feel those colors changing. The beauty of speed.
Author – Tom