Friday, March 22, 2013

Change: “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

Change: “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”

This is a quote by Wayne Gretzky.
I am flying to Canada now. And I like hockey.

Today the quote reminds me of how hard change is.

To make any change happen in an organization it is hard.  Takes a lot of energy.  Takes a willingness to miss a shot, to make a mistake, as Gretzky says.  That takes guts.  Most people don’t have guts for things they don’t really really care about.

Why is it so hard?

First, I think organizations are mainly there to remain ‘static’.  A company is there to preserve the situation.  Yes, yes, of course any corporation is building things or providing services for its customers.  So, a kind of change is happening all the time.

But the main idea of the corporation is to assure that the basics are there every day.  Regular, unchanging.  The building is there, its warm (or cool), the lights are on, the processes are known, you know who to go to, etc, etc.  The same.  Every day.  Despite all the other things in the world that are changing.

And people want that.  They need that stability.

Second.  While people actually like some change, some degree of variety, still…

Still they don’t want to be changed.  They don’t want to be the helpless pawn of some brilliant change that I (the great and wonderful Oz) am bringing them.  No one wants to be a helpless pawn.

Also, there is too much change these days.  People are tired of it.  Why was everything stupid yesterday, and today, again for the 1000th time, we must change everything?  Too much (damn) change!  Stop it!

And you can feel this yourself, and see that it ties back also to that helplessness.

Still, people like change, they believe in improving their situation.  So, if you can tie your idea to that inner feeling of progress, then they will want the change.  Want it, at least to some degree.

Third, politics.

By this I mean the messiness of dealing with people in groups.  The hierarchy, the power, the games. So, with any change, we must ‘play politics’ to some degree. Very bothersome for most of us.

So, where am I going with this?

To this idea: That one must be very motivated if one is going to start to make a significant change in an company (or many organization).  Very motivated.  Otherwise, one is easily stopped by all the barriers to change.

Kotter calls this motivation a sense of urgency.

I recently had an in-house class.  And I was teaching them Scrum.

And most in this class found some aspects of it ‘impossible’.  Meaning, that most of them did not think they could get the culture in their company to change that much.

My initial reaction was an inner anger (not shown outwardly).  Anger that they in effect wanted me to change Scrum.  Anger that these very talented people would let so much potentially good change go by, ‘merely’ because they thought that such as change was ‘impossible’.  I say this in part because I know that people — less talented than these people were — have made this kind of change happen. And against odds equally as great.

But, looking back, anger is not good. And also not appropriate.  They don’t owe it to me to change.  And my getting angry that they can’t see the benefits and push through to get them, for themselves, my being angry about that, well, it is sweet and all, that I want them to have a better life, but also kind of silly.

Now, later I am reading Fearless Change by Mary Lynn Manns and Linda Rising.  One of the change patterns in the book is Personal Touch.  I start reading that pattern.


I got two big flashes of insight.

First, most of the people in that group do not value the change in the way I do.  And they have no reason to.  They had no experience of its real success.  To them, it was just ‘Joe talking’ — maybe sounds good, but no inner conviction yet.

Secondly, every one is different.  One has to explain the change to each person, slowly, and help them come to see that it will benefit them (or even, that it has benefited them).

So, once you have helped someone care enough, gotten through to them in some unique way, then you will see someone who will make change happen.

Someone who will take many shots, and happily miss many.  Knowing that eventually they will win the game.

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