An old friend, Joel, is an artist. Years ago, I saw him do a live performance with a light box, sand, and music. As the music played, he would create the story in the sand. However, as the story changed so too would the scene in the sand. But here’s the thing, he would use the existing shapes to create new ones. He never started afresh but rather wove the images together. So hills became balls, trees mountains, fence posts tent pegs, and so on. Like all good art, it was mesmerising to behold. And like all good artists, Joel had spent hours practices and ‘getting it wrong’.
Skilled change makers are artists. They weave change into existing organisations and systems repurposing existing parts with new lives. Sometimes you can see where it is headed, but most often, the new purpose is only clear with hindsight.
I’ve seen Joel work his magic multiple times. Sometimes the song is the same, but even when it is, the ‘artwork’ in sand is not. And so it goes with change, templates rarely work. Good artists and good change makers respond to mood, the context, the culture in which and with which they are working.
And all good artists and change makers practice and hone their craft.