Moving Past Understanding Change
There is so much material (clichés, thoughts and views) available about change that I wondered if I could contribute anything that would have an impact, or be worth mentioning. Along the way however, I have realised that by making small, incremental personal changes, you can make the world a better place for your family to live, work and enjoy.
As a Behaviourist, I was trained to stay away from pushing change too forcefully or making it a focal point – individually and collectively. That may sound strange, especially when the nature of my work and what I do is change-based, but it is true.
Our professional training focuses on understanding the reasons why people and organisations behave the way they do. Once we understand why the behaviours are evident, the process to support people through the change cycle tends to be slow and belaboured. It almost feels painful.
But, it does not have to be.
Use Understanding To Propel You Forward
With understanding and knowledge comes your ability to support yourself and your organisation in utilising the strength needed to flex and adapt. Knowledge and understanding bring curiosity. Curiosity opens the mind to careful analysis. Analysis leads you to seeing things differently and therefore relating to the same thing – differently.
That seemingly small thing begins the cycle of change.
Neither you nor your organisation may have yet changed per se, but a different outcome would have been realised through your thoughts and observations.
You are now looking at things through a changed lenses, questioning the reason for the outcome and what would be required to achieve something different.
Computers And The Impact Of Change
Computer technology offers one of the best graphic and living examples of the pace of change today.
ENIAC, commonly thought of as the first modern computer, was built in 1944. It took up more space than an 18-wheeler tractor trailer, weighed more than 17 Camaros, and consumed 140,000 watts of electricity. ENIAC could execute up to 5,000 basic arithmetic operations per second.
One of today’s popular microprocessors, the 486, is built on a tiny piece of silicon about the size of a dime. It weighs less than a packet of Sweet ‘N Low and uses less than 2 watts of electricity. A 486 can execute up to 54,000,000 instructions per second.
Today, we are using 586s and 686s that have almost doubled the 486’s processing power. That is incredible change! The average consumer today wears more computing power on their wrists than existed in the entire world before 1961.
The pace of all this technological change continues to drive the pace of change for us as human beings and profoundly impact on our lives.
Our own survival is being threatened and life as we know it is fast becoming extinct.
Language Has A Whole New Meaning
Think about language for a minute.
In my days of youth, sick was something you used to describe a feeling of being unwell. Today sick
means that something is looking good, as does bad.
Technology and language are shortening the lifespan of each generation and making the gaps between each one wider and wider.
Penmanship was compulsory at school in my day. Today my 10-year-old daughter places more emphasis on the computer and its software. She knows the Internet as well as I know my Oxford dictionary. She hasn’t yet internalised all the information I have over the years, but she sure knows where and how to find it if she needs to.
Now, any average human being would find this daunting to say the least. I welcome and enjoy change. Actually, I thrive on it most times, but even when I do I question how fast we are moving and our own ability to adapt as quickly as we need to or should.
Change Can Be Frightening
Change, rightfully so, is frightening, but then, what is fear?
It is a protective and real emotion, built into our mainframe to warn us about impending danger and to tell us that things are not right and we need to make some adjustments.
This is where our understanding about change should begin and why it is so important for us to track behaviour and measure results to achieve the change we want – individually and organisationally.
Even resistors have a role to play in change. Resistance can serve as one of the best diagnostic tools during the change effort. Perhaps certain aspects of the game plan were wrong to begin with. Or maybe they’re being carried out poorly.
If you’re paying attention, resistance signals problems or mistakes and gives you a chance to re-calibrate your approach. It can occur if people get confused, drift off course, or just quite naturally start regressing to the old way of doing things.
If you’re tracking behaviour and measuring your results, these behaviours will provide you with the opportunity to address problems that may arise before they get out of hand.
People Who Change Best
In my experience, the people who change best and fastest are the ones who have no choice. They do not necessarily change themselves but they change their perspectives and their understanding of the situation and what is required to drive the change effort and achieve the results needed.
This comes from good direction, clear objectives, strong leadership and constant measurement.
Once they understand fully the reason for the change and its necessity – the fact that there is no other choice – they automatically appear to fall in line, many times becoming the faster and better drivers.
The world is currently experiencing and continuing to prepare for continued and major change. Many of our activities over the past few months and during the upcoming few are designed to help us understand the challenges accompanying these changes and to put the necessary steps in place to accommodate a smooth transition.
It will not be easy, we know that going in, but that was never an expectation. We appreciate the challenges and the opportunity to stretch to a new and different level.
Change has become a major cornerstone of our lives and our success.
So, aim for understanding the behaviours surrounding change and this advertisement from Putnam Investments would not become your Nemesis:
“You think you understand the situation, but what you don’t understand is that the situation just changed.”
Change is all around us. It is inevitable. It is our way of life in the “new normal” of the world. We truly do not know what change will be expected of us from day to day.
The events of COVID-19 reminds us of that every day.
With awareness and understanding though, of what the situation is demanding of us, we can do things differently and experience change.
Taking it one step at a time, just as you would drink one glass of water at a time, makes all the difference.
So, do not be intimidated by change. Make the most of every opportunity and open yourself to fresh perspectives.
Do you want to understand your role in the change process and how resilient you may be? Then, follow our Founder’s journey.