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When the world changes

If we were to rewind to the beginning of 2020, I doubt anyone had the foresight to predict the global chaos that has evolved over the last six months.

We’ve all faced change, whether it’s been stuck in our houses for weeks with no outlet for exercise; facing the impact of business closures; or pivoting businesses to be relevant in the change.  Any way you look at it, we’re all faced with change, whether we like it or not.

Jeremy Barty, Change Maverick, offers three thoughts that can support personal change through these unprecedented times:

  1. Change is not an idea, it’s an action.  You simply cannot think your way through change. You can only act your way to change.
  2. Change takes place one micro-action at a time. Breaking down the change into small, repeatable and observable actions will progress all change, either big or small.
  3. Change is best done in community. Sharing with peers and holding each other accountable for the small steps we take as we undergo change increases the possibility of change exponentially.

When it comes to organisational and group change projects, Jeremy provides the following guidance and reasons for the high levels of failed change initiatives.

  1. Leaders fail to be the change. They expect their teams to change, but don’t lead the way. In big corporations, people at the top of the organisation are given tools and people to support their change, such as coaching and leadership development programmes, but often ground level staff do not receive the same support. This lack of leadership divides the business into ‘us’ and ‘them’ and the most resistance to change then emerges from people who are least supported in the change, but often required to demonstrate the steepest change.
  2. Resistance to change is real and must be understood and managed. The failure to pick up resistance to the change during the change process embeds a failure gene directly into any change intervention.  Resistance to change is multi-faceted and requires particular attention to these two factors:Resistance to the change behind the change.
    This can emerge because the change required is blocked by another change that is deeper (the change behind the change).

    For example, the required change is to adopt a new software, but the change behind the change is digital upskilling and education of employees. So the resistance is not only to the new software itself, but employees feel digitally incompetent and so they resist all of the change.

    Social, systemic and cultural resistance to change
    This resistance emerges because the changes that are required are contrary to the traditional culture of the organisation.

  1. Leader often lack the knowledge and skills of the psychology of change, and focus primarily on the project plan and tasks associated with change. They tick boxes and Gantt charts, but fundamentally ignore the inner turmoil of the people impacted by the change.

Change requires a shift in mindset and perspective, and questions are an essential tool to master. Questions initiate the change, but organisations need to think about the change, feel the change and embody the change in alignment with the intention and focus of the desired change.

Here are three questions to get you started when you’ve identified the change that you desire to make:

  1. What would you need to let go of to make way for the change?
  2. Is there sufficient trust in your culture to make this change happen?
  3. Where are the points of resistance you have to watch closely as you move through change?
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