He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils…for time is the greatest innovator
From the Renaissance master…Sir Francis Bacon
Why is change so hard? Why are organizational paradigm shifts well near impossible? One line of conversation could go down the road of the neurobiological challenges that come with habit formation and the breaking of old ones. We will need to leave that for another day, though it is a fascinating and research rich area. It is the other line of conversation that interests me: people's unwillingness.
I see coaching clients, every week, who are potentially staring job demotion or even job loss in the face, half-heartedly they say they want to change but when it comes to making even small incremental steps they suddenly contract an acute case of excusiosis.
I see small companies and non-profits in exactly the same position. Loss of members, key shareholders bowing out, the best and brightest leaders leaving for more adventuresome rides elsewhere, these are common happenings where change is slow and openness to the new nonexistent.
The crazy thing from my seat in the house is Sir Francis Bacon’s quote is obvious, but not till it is painfully obvious do most people respond. And by the time attention getting pain sets in it is often too late.
We need “new remedies” in our organizations and leadership.
I see people launching “new” endeavors that aren’t new at all, only off the rack solutions with new fabric but same ol’ hand-me-down design. Aren’t we a bit more creative than that?
You know what I hear…and am convinced sits at the center of this? Four things...
Time. Imagining our way forward is much more time consuming than off the rack solutions. You have to be willing to take time, sometimes a lot of it, to really come up with creative, custom, unique and well fit possibilities. We don’t like to take time! Think crockpot not microwave. Think barrel aged fine wine.
Acknowledgement. I think one of the reasons we don’t like to take time is we are making a grand admission; “I don’t know!” We have to come to the imagining process with a beginner’s mind that says “I simply don’t know and want to enter into the exhilarating AND time consuming space that allows new emergence to happen.”
Tools. This is a big problem. We have been trained in our schools, apprenticeships, internships and examples around us to steal ideas, replicate past models, tweak old patterns, attempt resuscitation of old programs. Wrong-O!
Yesterday’s models, for a world long gone, can’t fund a new emerging world. And yet we don’t know what tools to use. We don’t know the technologies available for listening to the not yet emergent future (there is literally a whole model taught in some of the best business schools in the world on this topic) or how to dream through and imagine prototyping new possibilities. We need a retooling desperately.
Mess. We hate mess. This isn’t a neat, clean, orderly, predictable, safe or stable process. We prefer routine to risk, known to the unknown, comfortable to the creative and stable to the squishy. And we all know risk, unknown, creative and squishy are messy. BUT…. That is the only way to find our way into the new terrain of a world where tectonic plate shifting is more frequently the norm.
Where do you need to change and stretch so you can personally get to the next level? Is it shutting off the TV in the evening? Committing to a daily reading/learning habit? Really making adjustments in your diet so you finally address the health concerns that have loomed for years? What are you going to actually change TODAY? Not thinking about changing but actually acting!
If you are thinking about your vocational space, where can you be the voice of challenge? Where can you lead "up" by asking probing questions that might expose tired and expired mindsets that just have to change? Will you go now ask those questions, raise those concerns, throw up a red flag?
I invite you to consider a new way of living, leading and learning. Let’s be pulled into tomorrow by something compelling and powerful as opposed to the pain of new evils that are sure to come with time…Thank you Sir Francis!