Author, Consultant, Executive Coach - Helping people and organizations grow into desired results

Monday, 28 June 2010

How to promote Positive CHANGE

In which your Author makes an impassioned Plea to help people to promote Positive CHANGE and end the trauma-inducing, ineffective practices of traditional "change management".

Change is a funny thing

It's happening all the time, all around us.

The desire to change things for the better awakens creativity and innovation. It inspires and dazzles and delights and stimulates progress, evolution, learning and development.

So how did change become such a traumatic experience for so many people?

In many organizations, "change management" practices often do far more harm than good as they:
  • cause chaos and reduce productivity without getting the desired results
  • provoke powerful emotions ("resistance") that are not channeled into useful outcomes
  • get only short-term compliance and lip-service but not enduring meaningful change
  • use jargon-filled, confusing messages that aren't matched by real action
  • concentrate on what's wrong, broken, deficient and the obstacles, barriers, problems
  • rely on grand change plans that look great on paper but don't account for real people
So what if, instead of these unrealistic and trauma-inducing change practices, there was another way?

Positive CHANGE

In order to make constructive progress towards an outcome that you have identified and want to achieve, it makes good sense to follow the path of least resistance and greatest efficacy. That involves thinking about change in a different way.
Choose positive over negative
Highlight what's better, use what's working
Appreciate differences
Nothing happens 'til the ball is in play
Generate possibilities
Everyday language
Choose positive over negative 
Quite simply: given a certain amount of time available, you are much likely to move closer to your desired outcome if you spend more time discussing what you want than what you don’t want. You have a choice where you put your focus, so focus on what's working (instead of what isn’t) progress (not blame), influence (not control), collaboration (not expert input), resources (not deficits), simplicity (not complication) and practical actions (not problem-definitions).

Highlight what's better, use what's working
Often solutions are right there in front of you, if you only have eyes to see them. Notice the times when things had happened a little better - after all, it makes no sense to focus on what’s absent! Having a “use what's working” attitude means finding what's working well and doing more of it. By default, that gives less energy to the things that aren't working well and moves you more quickly toward positive outcomes.

Appreciate differences 
Every new situation is different - beware of ill-fitting theory, don’t come to the party with preconceived notions, instead ask about things that helped in this case and encourage people to do more of that. Also, when tracking progress use the questions “What’s better? What do you notice that's different from last time?" and help make needed course-corrections by asking "What will you do differently next time to get closer to your goal?”

Nothing happens 'til the ball is in play
Whenever people come together to effect change, the real action is in the interaction. It's like a game of tennis - each player has a game-plan in mind, but nothing interesting happens ‘til the ball’s in play - and no one could have predicted what direction things take from there. By addressing the interaction, we avoid focus on which side is the cause, or who is to blame, and instead make good use of the change that's already taking place. People are co-constructing their experience, all day, every day. They are creating all kinds of great things between them - how can you help by collaborating and drawing attention to the ways they do it?

Generate possibilities (past, present and future) 
We often think of possibilities only in terms of the future, what about possibilities based on the best of what’s happened in the past and right now, today?

Everyday language
Notice what words are used and how, prefer simple words to avoid misunderstanding

The difference that makes a difference

When you adopt a Positive CHANGE mentality, lots of great things happen.

You find yourself interacting better with other people and can often influence situations more effectively. Conversations lead to progress instead of awkward dead-ends. You're able to have difficult conversations with confidence and resolve differences more successfully. Things that used to trigger your knee-jerk emotional reactions can be put into perspective when you simply ask yourself, "if my objective is positive change, what's the smart move here...?"

So, what's your next smart move? To be sure you hear about the next post in this series on change, click on the "Get blog updates by RSS feed" button or enter your email address in the "Get blog updates sent to your email" box in the top-right side of this page. (Wondering how RSS works? Watch this video.)

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