Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.

New Year’s resolutions 2010 – Dec 31st – do deadlines work?
December 31, 2009, 9:22 pm
Filed under: - Personal Reflections, - Strategy and Imperatives | Tags: , , ,

Dec 31, Toronto, Ontario: D-day.  Have you completed all or some of your 2009 resolutions?  Have you made progress?  And perhaps a back-door: do you allow yourself to carry them forward?

Well, my personal answer to all is “yes” – and that is why I make resolutions. 

The process works for me – the focusing on ‘what do I need to do this year’, both personally and professionally, as well as tracking the progress.  In fact, really it is the sense of progress that really motivates, not always the deadline.  The personal truth is that if I don’t complete the whole list, it’s okay.  What is important, directionally, to be making progress at a feasible pace.   The professional truth is somewhat more ruthless – dollars don’t lie.  However, there are always extenuating circumstances to be weighed in – and over all, it was a good year.

Perhaps equally interesting: have you prepared your 2010 resolutions?  I am working on it. In this I am very deadline-driven.  My mind will focus at roughly 11:59pm Dec 31st.  Sound familiar?  And if it doesn’t, the process is a journey – I allow myself to add only.

And, by the way, this process intuitively leverages many of the best practices of classic change management – it works when we work it. 

And, if you’d like to participate in a survey, just for fun, to see how many of us set New Year’s Resolutions have a look here: .

In the journey, all the very best to you and yours in 2010.  My favorite wish for you – a variation of the traditional Irish toast:

“May the wind always be on your back, the sun upon your face and may the winds of destiny carry you aloft to dance with the stars.”


New Year’s Resolutions – to change? why? do they stick?

Dec 29, Toronto, Ontario: For the past several years I have challenged myself with New Year’s Resolutions. True, this game is not for everyone.  Currently I am running a poll on my LinkedIn – granted not a representative sample group and the number of respondents is not representative either – but this is really intended as experimental amusement, not science.  Have a look, here: and go ahead, vote.  It’s anonymous and no one will get hurt.

The question is “Do you make New Year’s resolutions to change your behavior?”  Of course that opens up a world of follow-on questions for which this may become the forum … ?  What kinds of resolutions?  Do you write them down?  Do you think about them after January? Is it a positive leading approach or a guilty push? 

Surely the notion of a blank slate is intoxicating – a year ahead where anything can happen – a year of potential for miracles big and small.  On the small side, is the promise that I can find more work / life balance, lose a little weight and maybe even  make a little difference in this huge world.

Curious to how others, from different walks of life, perceive the new year … can we change the trajectory of our lives? Of the lives of those around us, near or far?

Is a personal promise compelling? Effective? Do we benefit from accountability – from telling others? from having others tell us?

I will be mulling this over during the next couple of days and will update this blog post.  Do you have comments?  Come on and play along – tell us what YOU think about New Year’s Resolutions. 

Looking for some inspiration?  One of my colleagues on LinkedIn was ahead of me and has written and published her ‘Christmas Wishes’  here – thanks for sharing Faith.  Me, I need accountability … more on that later.

Top 10 lists of 2009 – what will change our worlds?

There is a commonly referenced quote in Change Management circles “People don’t resist change they resist being changed” (Peter Senge) to explain why so many organizational change initiatives “fail” or fall short of objectives.  Certainly we do gravitate to some change and adopt it quickly while other change we retreat from – so what is the difference?

If we can figure how and why we gravitate to some change, then can we help people to transition when appropriate?

I heard a comedian yesterday speaking about how quickly we take some advancements for granted.  He referenced air travel and the complaining we do when the plane is 20 minutes late boarding or sits on the runway for a while – he reminded us that once airborne “we are sitting in a chair in the sky!”.  This is truly a marvel, if we pause to consider it.  Are there other examples of changes in our lifetime that we have adopted and now take for granted? Dental care might be another example.  Or flat irons (don’t worry if you don’t know what it is then you don’t need it).

We might identify incremental, desirable change as easier to adopt – going to the Dentist for teeth whitening may seem a logical extension from dental hygiene,  internet access at 30,000 feet may seem a no-brainer once we had it on our cell phones.   

And, we do tend to adapt quickly to change that serves our needs (even those we didn’t know we had until that product comes along that we cannot live without, my Garmin comes to mind).  Once tried and adopted it becomes an integral part of our world (certainly markets dream of this).  “Trial” is key here – and optional, rather than mandatory, trial.

And we procrastinate and resist those changes we cannot fully comprehend or control and those that bring us discomfort even when we know intellectually that we must adapt for our own well being – the recession is the most obvious current example.  But there are others.  What about reducing salt and saturated fat in our diets? What about getting fit? What about “the green economy”?  Many proponents evangelize about the potential for new businesses and jobs – Al Gore as recently as today on CNN (also on video) and yet it seems North American businesses still need to be pushed and cajoled to consider breaking into this new industry.

There are a few rare people who seem to understand, process and adapt quickly to new conditions.  Most of us are rooted in our familiarity with home, family, work, hobbies, etc.  That sense of belonging and security is incredibly strong – so strong that when faced with threats to that comfort many of us retreat into it rather than charge out to challenge threats or to look for the opportunity in the milieu. 

Which is probably why the items on these Top 10 lists stand out.  They are the anomalies – the bizarre and unusual which contradict, challenge or otherwise differ from our comfy norm.  They stretch our perspectives – enjoy: