Change Whisperer – Gail Severini, Symphini Change Management Inc.


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 CNN.com 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:


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