Posts Tagged ‘Business Change’

Video Blog: Why Change can’t be ‘managed’

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

If people ask me “What do you do?”  I’ll often say “I’m a Change consultant” To which they normally go “Oh.. Change management” If time is short I agree, but given half a chance I explain why I don’t like this phrase and why I feel that real change is not something to ‘manage’ rather it need facilitating and enabling.  This video gives a better explanation of what I feel.






© I-Change 2009


The Inevitability of Change

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

I was listening to someone talk the other day and they referred to “the inevitability of change”, and it was a phrase that really resonated for me. So often I hear people talking about Change as if it was an occasional stroke of bad luck, a bit like a traffic accident or a snow storm, something visited on us by the gods to test and try us. Nothing could be further from the truth! It is much more like weather, something we live with every day, just another dimension of our lives. And who should understand the changing nature of weather better than the British?

Change is inevitable. Change is constant.” Benjamin Disraeli

Every day we grow a little bit older and perhaps a little bit wiser (of course inside we always feel the same 16 year old we have always been) but as we grow older we notice the young people around us seem to change each time we see them, so why should change be such a threat when it is so much a part of our daily lives?

The truth is that we fear, fight and resist those things which are imposed from outside and this usually includes most business change programs. The very phrase ‘change program’ is enough to send a cold shudder of dread through an organisation. The usual methodology seems to involve someone at the top getting sold some new idea; perhaps a consultancy has some ‘new’ methodology to peddle. This is the silver bullet, the secret ingredient that will kill all known germs, the one element that is required to transform your business! Usually it is snake oil and as likely to work as consulting the magic mirror in the executive washrooms! Intuitively the workforce realises this and resists it as pointless.

Since the industrial revolution, the language of the workplace has become ever more the language of the production line. We want to eliminate waste and have reliable processes. Of course there is nothing wrong with either of these aims but in our efforts to turn people into machines we rob them of their spark. We need to create an environment that supports their genius and humanity and allows them to respond to things with all their gifts and intuitions. How often has a potential cock-up of monumental proportions been defused with a smile and a sincere sorry? An incident book and H&S manual would do nothing but compound and perpetuate it.

Of course I’m not suggesting we don’t need structures and processes, but when we treat people like components we are breeding resistance to the natural flow of things, including change. The farmer goes out into his field every day and sees something different and responds appropriately. He has no expectation that he will see the same conditions nor will his crops look the same; he knows things will have moved on. Leading business thinkers are warning that the old wisdom about peaks and troughs in business is now a thing of the past and that there no longer is a ‘recovery’ phase. It just keeps on coming.

It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.” Isaac Asimov

The thing is we don’t tend to fear things that we are familiar with, we learn to deal with them. I believe the key challenge for every business leader today is Change. Every decision is fundamentally about what things need changing and what things need preserving, and allocating resources between these things. Strategy is about mapping a safe route through the minefield, where to turn and where to keep straight on. So leaders need to build a culture that sees Change as inevitable, a force to be worked with as sailors use the wind, not to be feared, but harnessed!

“Champions know that success is inevitable; that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. They know that the best way to forecast the future is to create it.” Michael J. Gelb

I was listening to a Kyudo (the Japanese art of archery) master speaking the other day about how the desire to hit the target prevent you from doing so, one had to simply be in the flow and release the energy stored in the bow. This make seem overly zen and weird but I think a leader builds energy in his system, chooses his target and then his job is to simply release it and trust it to find its target.

Find a new language for discussing change, involve people in a dialogue about it rather than imposing it, set a direction rather than giving instructions, release energy rather than seeking to restrain it and remember “Change is inevitable.. Except from a vending machine!” The best way to get people to join the ‘dance’ is to be the first one onto the dance floor…

What is a Spell?

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

I came across this quotation yesterday in the book Wicked “A spell is no more than a recipe for change” and that got me wondering; just what is the recipe for Change? I know whole books have been written on this subject and it might be a good topic for an MBA, but it might be interesting to explore this.

I guess the ingredients are:-

  • Timing: No one and nothing changes till it is ready to; flowers bud in the spring etc. Though what moves a person from not-ready to ready is a huge topic in itself!
  • Readiness: You need to have all the required components for your change, the raw ingredients if you will. This includes not only the raw materials, whatever they maybe, but also enough knowledge to at least know where to begin
  • Desire: There has to be a desire to flow with the energy of Change and to loosen hold on resistance. Think of a little boy learning to swim, one day he lets go of the bar because his desire to learn to swim is greater than his fear of failure.

Other helpful items include:-

  • Support: From friends, family, teachers or professionals; having people to encourage and guide can help us moving forward.

I guess a little bit of magic never hurts, and in real life, this can take the form of these ingredients coming together with such ease as to make the process painless. After all, when a baby birds leaps from its nest for the first time it trusts that it can fly rather than knows it. So today, I wish you a little magic in your life…

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Open Minded?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

I attended an Open Space1 day today with a networking group I belong to. The idea behind this approach is it enables large groups to discuss complex issues in a self-organising way and handle complex issues without having passions take over. I thought that it had some interesting lessons for life.

This approach allows people to talk about what is on their mind. In order to do so, they announce the topic they wish to discuss and if others finding this interesting they come and join in. At the point they lose interest, or find they are not making the progress they hoped, or simply something else seems more compelling they are free to go and join another parallel group discussing another aspect of the issue.

In other words, you can only discuss areas that are sufficiently interesting to all parties to secure their attention. So often in life there are these one-sided conversations, and people will mentally dial out long before the other has stopped talking.

The other interesting aspect of this is whilst person A might have proposed the topic to be discussed; the dynamics of the group will often take the conversation into different areas. Traditionally person A would have to try to drag everyone back to the topic under discussion. Using this method, whatever emerges is okay, so no one has to get defensive, and therefore no one needs to get aggressive either.

I wonder if we had more conversations which were a genuine exploration and where the power was equal, how might this affect our lives?

“An open mind leaves a chance for someone to drop a worthwhile thought in it”


  1. Principles of Open Space:
    1. Whoever comes are the right people
    2. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.
    3. When it starts is the right time
    4. When it’s over it’s over
      Plus the Law of Two Feet…. “If you find yourself in a situation where you are not contributing or learning, move somewhere where you can.”

Feeling Stuck? ACTION!

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

We are in the early stages of one of those periodic major renovation phases house owners are painfully familiar with. Our garden, which had always been a little ‘au naturel’, had become more of a jungle, the house is showing the signs of 3 healthy, active children growing up in it not to mention 3 cats! It is a daunting challenge knowing where to start and how to invest our hard-earned pennies. For quite a long time we were slightly frozen in this state of ‘not knowingness’.

Eventually my wife got a little more decisive and got in a garden contractor. I was thinking ‘tidying up’, she was thinking ‘war on weeds’! After we had had a small army of men and earth movers here for over a week it has been utterly transformed. I suspect the pharaohs used people like these to build the pyramids!

Why am I sharing this with you? Well the interesting thing is how, once you begin a project, things that you couldn’t know before you start suddenly come clear. I often help businesses with their strategy and I employ a similar approach. Get moving, and adapt as you learn more. If you spend too long planning you tend to get more and more stuck, and as Helmuth von Moltke famously observed “No plan survives contact with the enemy“, so what is the point having a perfect plan? Get moving, learn from what you do and adapt as you move forwards.

Those organisations that are able to learn and adapt fastest have a competitive advantage and the market to themselves for a while. This strategy will work just as well for you if you are feeling a bit stuck. Today, if you feel like this, DO SOMETHING, it really doesn’t matter what, just get moving and you will notice that you see things differently and feel differently. So Good Luck… and …ACTION!

“Just Do It.” Nike

True Freedom?

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

I don’t know what brought it to mind, but this morning I was recalling seeing a TV programme some years ago about a young French rock climber. She used to climb with no equipment, and no rope; this is called free soloing. I have never seen anything so scary or so inspiring! She was totally fearless, and moved with a natural grace and power that was incredible. She hung by her finger tips, a thousand feet in the air. I don’t think I have ever seen, nor can I imagine, anyone more free.

Now I realise that fear has an evolutionary value and there are times when it is right and appropriate to be afraid. However I suspect that most of us have it ‘riding pillion’ on our lives most of the time, holding us back and keeping us hidden. If no one can see us, then they can’t get us, can they? This is a bit like belonging to a football team who never plays any matches to avoid losing.

Fear is the single biggest barrier to change in business; it is probably the mankind’s greatest challenge too. What will I do today to take me out of my comfort zone? Who will I dare show the real me? Will I tell them what I really think and feel? Dare I ask for what I really want?

Watch this and perhaps walk a little freer today

“Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed.” Michael Pritchard