I’ve been reflecting on my involvement with organisational change recently, here are a few initial thoughts on what I’m learning:
- It’s hard work
There are many books and articles with theories of burning platforms, champions, etc. which are helpful to think about and useful at times, there is no way around the fact that change is hard. There has never been a project that I’ve been involved in which at one point I didn’t feel like dropping the mic and saying “I’m out”. I have now come to expect it. Change is hard, it’s ‘emotional labour’ and thus draining. To do it, we must take care of ourselves
- The key bits are often the non-sexy bits
Sure having a vision, a dream helps, but in many ways dreaming is easy, making the dream reality is hard work. It requires us to show up, every day, be present, have tough conversations, stop activities that has been a staff person’s life’s work, demand behaviour change, let people go, have people leave that you don’t want to leave. None of this is flashy, it rarely comes out in the interviews with the person on the front cover of Fast Company, but it without it, dreams stay just dreams.
- Not knowing the end of the story
We often know what we’d like the end of the story to be, but the truth is, we don’t know if we will get there. The more comfortable we can be with not knowing, the easier our lives become; the more honest we are. There is a freedom in this and it doesn’t mean we are not passionate or that we work less hard; we simply drop the pretence about being certain about the outcome.
- Disappointing people
You can’t please everyone; even when you would like to. Sometimes we lost key staff or key customers. Sometimes people were angry with me and I had no idea why; other times I definitely knew why, but it was still something I needed to do. Agreement is not always needed, but treating people with respect is and apologising when I was in the wrong was critical.