change

technology has changed, humanity hasn’t… part 2

“The world is too big for us. There is too much doing, too many crimes, casualties, violence, and excitements. Try as you will, you get behind the race in spite of your self. It is an incessant strain to keep pace and still you lose ground. Science empties its discoveries on you so fast that you stagger beneath them in hopeless bewilderment. The policical world witnesses new scenes so rapidly that you are out of breath tryingto keep up with them. Everything is high pressure. Human nature cannot endure much more.”

~ From the Atlantic Journal in 1837

innovation paradox

There is a huge paradox when it comes to change and innovation. Those have the most knowledge and perspective and who should be leading the charge and often the least likely to raise the innovation banner.

The people with a vested interest in the status quo (whether intellectual, emotional, financial, etc.) will argue the loudest and longest against change. Oddly enough, it’s the professional organizations, trade magazines ,  leaders in the field, etc. who seem to scream the most against the innovations that could actually improve the field. Rather than pushing for improvement, they have a vested interest and deep understanding for how things are and a very limited appreciation for how things could be. Or soon will be.

The problem for them (and any of us resisting change) is that no matter how loud of tantrums they throw, no matter how much they try to legislate, regulate, and block change, the rest of the world goes about its business and soon leaves them behind, arguing amongst themselves.

Denial is not a change strategy. We can find ways to get ahead of and benefit from the change or we can get drug along behind. Our choice.

change keeps on changing

“…the core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people and behavior change happens… mostly by speaking to people’s feelings.” ~ John Kotter

We want to believe that us humans are rational beings governed by reason and logic. We really, really want to believe this, despite our entire life experience. As near as I can tell, the strongest thing we can say is that we have the capacity to be rational, but we use nearly all of that capacity to explain, rationalize, and justify the decisions we’ve made with feeling and emotion.

This concept has been studied and demonstrated for years. Advertisers know it and use it to their advantage. They create change by hooking us on feelings of fun, status, sex appeal, freedom, control, power, hope, fear, etc.

Rationally, we know that too much of anything is bad for us. So, if we made rational decisions, none of us would suffer from too much food, alcohol, smoking, etc. Emotion drives us to action, intellect justifies it and makes it reasonable.

There are exactly 1.7 bagillion books, articles, and classes on change and change management. Companies are in turmoil as they try to keep up with the world and the best ones are using change to their advantage to continually evolve.

The problem is that we fall for the myth of rationality and think that big change = analyze à think à change. We look at options, analyze the pros and cons of each, decide, and move forward. When we focus on speaking to emotions it becomes:  see à feel à change. We see or visualize the outcome, feel what it will be like once we have made the change, and then take action.

The problem is that both are an oversimplification and we are driven by both. Some people are more analytical, some are driven more by instinct and emotion, but we all have a deep need to understand the reason behind the change AND emotionally connect to the benefits of the change.

We need both to create the motivation for change in ourselves, in our teams, in our companies. So, what can we do to better address our intellectual and emotional needs around change?

Your take?

 

status quo?

“If you don’t change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?” – Robert Anthony

 

Belief fuels action and habit, which creates a hard to break cycle. The more we do something, the more it becomes habit and the more of a habit it is, the more we do it. This penetrates every aspect of our lives.

Mr. Anthony refers to beliefs and it’s easy to think he is only talking about belief with a capital ‘B’: God, morality, religion, etc. That makes the power of his comment easy to miss. We have beliefs about every aspect of our lives. We choose our actions based on what we think will make us happy and successful (or at least happier or more successful than other choices), if only in the short run.

How often do we hear (or say), “I have to do it this way” or “Everyone does it like this” or “That’s just the right way to do it”? How often do we overjustify our actions without bothering to consider other possibilities (remember: we don’t want the best way, we want our way to be best)? How often do we use our beliefs to justify playing the victim?

We can try to make changes, but if we don’t change our beliefs, the changes will never stick. We’ll never, ever lose weight if we think we’re doomed to be fat. We’ll never get rich if we believe we were born to a loser’s life. We’ll never make good leadership decisions fueled by inaccurate beliefs. Too many times it’s been said:

  • “I can’t fire them, they are over 40.”
  • “I have no control over my employees’ motivation because I can’t give raises.”
  • “HR won’t let me fire them.”
  • “They’re doing a poor job, but I can’t fire them because I can’t have that position empty.”
  • “I spoke with them about that once, but it didn’t change so I’ve just learned to live with it.”
  • “I’m not a pleaser, I just don’t like people to be mad at me, but that’s ok, because no one does.”

Change the belief, change the action, change the result. Keep the belief, take the same action, get the same result. Your call.

shrinking comfort zones: the quick path to nowhere

Your comfort zones are either expanding or shrinking – there isn’t any middle ground. Either you’re stepping across the line, challenging yourself, moving a bit into the unknown and pushing back the boundaries OR you’re backing away from the line. Each time you step back so that you can stay with the familiar and comfortable, the line draws in, so you have to step back again, and again it shrinks.

The world it is a changin’ (duh!). Jobs are moving off shore or going away or radically evolving. A sure ticket to failure is to stand still, refuse to change and insist (insist!) that the world not change either. Problem is, the world’s changing whether we like it or not. The jobs of tomorrow are not going to look like the jobs of today. Want to stay employed? Stay relevant. Challenge yourself. Learn. Grow. Push your boundaries. Take on challenges you wouldn’t normally take on.

The more we try to stay safe by not changing, the more at risk we are of being completely behind. My prediction is that anyone who isn’t focused on improving and developing new skills each and every year will soon be either underemployed or unemployed. BUT, I’m not necessarily referring to technology. Technology facilitates a lot of changes, but is becoming more and more user friendly (anyone remember punch cards?).

The biggest growth potential that I see needed is in change, communication, and relationship development. As an HR pro or manager or employee, can you have the tough conversations you need to have? Can you hold people accountable? Can you influence people who don’t report to you? Can you use technology to enhance your communication instead of complicating it? Can you develop the trust and relationships that will enable you to get twice as much done with half the angst? Or do you leave it up to other people who are “better at it.”?

You’re either moving forward or falling behind in direct relationship to the rate you are pushing your comfort zone. Avoiding the difficult or unpleasant parts of the job – often the parts that involve other people – is a fast track to irrelevance.