The Cost of Change

I just gave up a large piece of income because I’m tired of being asked to do corporate quick fix when more is required. You can’t change an individual in four hours and you can’t change a company with a three-day workshop, but sometimes that’s what you’re asked to do. “Give us all your expertise for the least amount of time and moneyÉand while you’re at it – Please! – Create a miracle.” They want you to call it leadership or cultural change. They want you to deliver sledge hammer honesty, confrontation, and some good slogans for the walls. If change and increased productivity don’t result, it’s proof this training stuff doesn’t work. Change becomes defunct myth.

I walked away this time, because I love and respect what I do too much to allow cynicism to be the product of not doing it thoroughly. I hate turning down work and money as much as you do. It scares the heck out of me. However, integrity directs me.

What does change take?

It helps to have a lot of support.

We constantly create and are created by our environments. It’s a symbiotic process. So if we decide we want to change something – ourselves, someone else, the company – we need to create support immersion. We need encouragement from outside and commitment from inside. New systems aren’t enough. Corporate change doesn’t happen unless it happens in humans. Humans need nurturing. I recently absorbed some penetrating ideas in James Flaherty’s (New West Ventures) coaching workshop. We did an exercise in which we asked other participants what would most help them achieve deep change. Every answer was a personal definition of support.

Change is more permanent when it happens, and is verified, over time.

This is how organisms evolve. The New Biology has presented viable models for lasting change. In evolution change happens from graduated interactions between organism and environment. Minute adjustments allow species to thrive. Individual coaching and corporate change both work best in relation to a calibrated time line that allows for risk, rehearsal, reflection and integration. Even flash-in-the-pan epiphanies are traced to historically imperceptible shifts.

We create change with a combination of observation, preparation, and new action.

Awareness is key. You can consistently measure to desired standards before, during, and after change by observing each stage. To observe sustains preparation and skill building into rigorous action for eventual self-sufficiency.

We need to internalize the change process for it to be self-sustaining.

The transition from conscious incompetent to unconscious competent is complete when a change is “embodied.” Your muscles know the moves. Your heart knows the map of feelings. You can sense correct action without particular attention. You can drive and talk on the phone at the same time without having an accident. You can evoke your own standards and guide yourself to achieve them.

Each of these elements requires a deep commitment of time and resources. Without global alignment for corporate change, or mutual engagement for individual coaching, the promise of real change is reduced to a Band-Aid remedy.

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