Change: The And And And

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Change: The And And And

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James Woodeson

Coach, Supervisor & Programmes

How does great discovery and contracting, alongside compassion for the existing ways of working and an “and” philosophy, get into a relationship with new, shiny alternatives?

Most often in our dialogue with clients, we discover that there is a desire to shift to something new. This is one of the wonderful phenomena of being human. A desire to grow and develop. Our inherent “next-ing”. What gets in the way of this growth? Most often, it’s the focus on the new and a rejection of the old and how that is experienced by those who will be impacted.

Change success depends on how well the sponsors of a new initiative are able to clearly articulate their vision, the critical success factors and recognise the challenges which are going to need to be embraced. All the while, accepting that change is rarely – if ever – a linear or straight line. It’s often complex and takes time. Some challenges may not materialise and others not thought of can rear their head unexpectedly as the context evolves.

Often, consultants are brought in with the very latest in leadership research, with a promise of sunny uplands of value creation. Yet, we often encounter the people who are in the beginning, middle or end of these initiatives, confused, resistant and fatigued.

What can help? We recommend two essential steps.

First, budget plenty of time for the initial discovery and contracting stage. This includes an openness to this being an emergent and evolving process. Always be contracting. It’s not only about a budget, it’s about the way you go about the work, interact with stakeholders and communicate to those involved. This should involve an agreement on how two-way feedback is integrated along the way.

Second, is the magic of the word “and”, holding a philosophy of balance and compassion for what is/was and what is desired/intended. This will include creating spaces for free-associating, reflecting and pondering. That means being with each other and not simply doing-doing-doing.

With this spirit, the legacy of how things are or were, are not rejected, they are embraced as a part of how we will be in the future.

Changing an organisational structure or introducing a fancy new leadership approach, is not the end of a change process. It’s most likely just the start. As the shadow of the ‘old’ continues to exert power and influence in the culture of the ‘new’.

One of the various “and” statements which I’ve seen from one of our coaches recently was “Appetite and Hunger”. We heard from a prospective client their vision for change and it came across as very hungry. We saw the need to help support the organisational community to develop its hunger, by inspiring and wetting their appetite. Shifting to something which is co-created, which is really, really wanted.

Success so often depends on the extent to which those who are going to be impacted by change are really hungry and really want it.

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