Thanks again for being a part of our readership tribe.
It’s April 2 and we’re 91 days into this rocking adventure of 2018.
Already I’ve learned a lot from your responses and feedback on your 3 words for the year and a bunch of other cool stuff you send me. Please keep that feedback coming.
So, why am I here? Top of each month, I enjoy rolling up my sleeves, having a cup of something hot n’ tasty and laying down some ideas, experiences and truth powered concepts to move us forward in being a foremost housing and health organization. It’s my personal mission to inform and inspire us, keep us focused on the realities of the month ahead. I want each of us to be our best and do our best in life, in leadership, and in our work together.
Right now I’m cozied up to steaming mug of Instant Nescafe’ Decaf. You’re saying whaaat..??
Anyway, this month I’d like to talk a bit about the dynamics of “change”. Given where we’re at, I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently. Can’t say I’ve got all the answers right now, but here are several insights from experience that should help give perspective.
Why Is “Change” So Blinkin’ Hard?
If change gives you gut churn, night sweats, the royal HeeBee GeeBees, you name it, you’re not alone. It’s a very natural discomfort in our lives. Our species tends to like that which has been around for a while. (Like maybe me) That’s the obvious reason for why we don’t like change.
But it runs deeper than that.
Some of the strongest resistance comes from what people ask for or think they want. Why? “Uninformed Optimism is always followed by “Informed Pessimism” and us humans will almost always choose the comfort of familiarity over the anxiety that comes with the unknown.
All that excess uncertainty.
If change feels like walking off a cliff blindfolded, then people will reject it. People will often prefer to remain mired in “stuck-ness” than to head toward an unknown even if it makes perfect logical sense. Here’s where that saying comes in, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.”
Decisions or circumstances that are harshly imposed on us with no time to get used to the idea or prepare for the consequences, are strongly resisted and resented. That’s probably why I hate surprise parties. It’s always easier to say No than to say Yes. As leaders, it’s always preferable to craft changes incrementally rather than springing them all at once. It’s better to plant seeds — that is, to sprinkle hints of what might be coming and seek collaboration and input.
Departure from the past
People who identify strongly with the last version, or the one that’s being superseded are likely to be super defensive about it. When change involves a big shift of strategic direction, the people responsible for the previous direction dread the perception that they may have gotten things wrong. As leaders we can help people maintain dignity by celebrating those elements of the past that are worth honouring and making it clear that the world has changed. That makes it easier to let go and move on.
Everything’s so different.
Well, yeah! Change is always about something different, but how different? We are creatures of habit. Routines become automatic, but change jolts us into consciousness, sometimes in uncomfortable ways. Too many changes coming too fast can overload someone’s space for change and make things very disorienting and confusing.
It’s coming at us faster.
If things seem to be happening faster these days, it’s because well,…uh, they are.
Brainiac inventor, author and futurist with a pretty strong prediction track record, Ray Kurzweil coined the phrase “law of accelerating returns”.
In 2001 Kurzweil wrote about the fact that every decade our overall rate of progress in technology was doubling, “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).”
The Internet and the mass availability of decentralized instant knowledge has spawned a whole new world of work and it has resulted in a whole new genre of businesses like Uber, Air BnB, and Amazon and millions of others.
BTW. Some of Ray Kurzweil’s predictions from the last 25 years may have seemed a stretch at the time—but many were right.
We’re only 18 years into the 21st century and the progress has been pretty astounding—the global adoption of the Internet, smartphones, ever-more agile robots, Artificial Intelligence that actually learns.
We sequenced the first human genome in 2004 at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Now, machines can sequence 18,000 annually for $1,000 a genome.
These are just a few examples of the law of accelerating returns driving progress forward.
The human element
Now here’s the part many leaders, experts and management gurus seem to ignore.
Because absorbing change requires physical, emotional, and intellectual energy, some very weird stuff happens when we run out of personal capacity to deal with it. On any given day you and I can only absorb so much change before our capacity hits overload and we hit the wall of zombie like dysfunction or “future shock”.
Back to the law of accelerated returns , when the conditions are right the returns on investment can be exponential.
In agriculture this is known as “bumper crop”. In finance, it’s compounded interest. In business activity, it’s called “scaling up”.
When it comes to “change”, this isn’t new territory. We’ve been here before .
Because the future is approaching much faster than we may realize, it’s critical to keep thinking exponentially about where we’re headed and how we’ll get there.The world we knew starting out is vastly different to the world we face today.
The new wrinkle for us as leaders in this increasingly uncertain world is how dow we build “resilience” and “change capacity” into ourselves and the communities we lead?
As leader we need to understand our times so that we know what to do.
Got any changes that are jamming you up ?
Give me a shout, hit me up.