Archive for the ‘change management’ Category

Don’t fight forces;
Use them.
Buckminster Fuller

Ships sail against the wind, waters behind the dam give it strength, the weight of an arch bestows suspended flight to waves of stone and steel. In all of these, the forces that work against success, are what make it possible.

Physical force has direction and energy, but no motivation or intention. Manipulate what works against you, into working for you.

Our first reaction to any opposing force is to push back, it’s an instinctive, simple, uncomplicated strategy, and this sometimes brings success. We have other options.

In unrelenting heat, ice cold water is scarce, unless you place it in a porous terra-cotta pot. The evaporating droplets create a chill, just as sweat will cool the body. Don’t fight the heat, use it.

The forces we encounter as obstacles to our goals aren’t always physical, sometimes they’re political, spawned of human nature and desire. The advice doesn’t change, don’t fight the forces, use them.

If someone is an expert at finding fault with a project, place them on the project with the task of avoiding fault.

If someone’s ego is in the way of a change, then frame the success to feed the ego.

Make the force be with you…

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Let us endeavor to live
that when we come to die,
even the undertaker will be sorry.
Mark Twain

Each day is a brick to be thrown or build upon. Even at the height of anger we have choices — to defend or to destroy. We choose our roles — protector or protagonist.

Is today a better place, because of actions taken yesterday? Did we roll the rock higher? Did we grow, or were we ground down?

These are simple questions, no less important because of their simplicity. They search for the light that guides us. When every wind is against us, when every path is uphill, what keeps us moving? What makes it all worthwhile?

Or is the secret not to think too much? To let it all just happen and cast our lot into the storm? “Making the world a better place,” is one of the many answers found. Another is: “Take care of those around you.”

The probing question remains… how wide do we cast our net? How large the circle of our friends?

It’s not all chaos. The search, for the reason behind the fury, is the foundation of future progress.

Let our passage turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones.

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We are changing the world faster
than we can change ourselves,
and we are applying to the present
the habits of the past
Winston Churchill

The grand irony is that in learning something new, we have both accepted, and beaten, the challenge of the future. To learn something new, we have likely invested in an old, possibly outmoded, strategy. Each success under our belt, becomes a weight anchoring us to a particular way of doing things, even learning things. Each past achievement, a burden against future progress.

Play a game of chess against an opponent, and with each win based upon a favourite strategy, we become more vulnerable to a change in tactics. Winning in a proven way, is an obstacle to progress.

Our strength lies, not in past success, but in our ability to unshackle ourselves from both losing -and- winning strategies. The first is easy, the second rare. It requires flexibility, a keen sense of judgment and courage.

Flexibility – because a willingness to change, is a prerequisite of change.

Judgment – because knowing when to change, is an art, not a science.

Courage – because we could be wrong, and must accept risk in order to achieve success.

Nothing remains the same, not even the steps towards success.

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My greatest strength as a consultant
is to be ignorant
and ask a few questions.
Peter Drucker

If there’s one thing there’s no shortage of, it’s ignorance. We’re surrounded by it. Saturated with it. Ignorance by its nature crowds out reason, commonsense and understanding.

Yet we seem to accept it as normal. We’re apparently willing to live with it. We fail to seize the opportunity to ask these questions which could dispel it:

Why do we do it this way?
Why do we believe this to be true?
Why can’t we change the rules?
Why must we do this at all?

These are the world wrecking questions. These are the queries that challenge, and can shatter, the Status Quo.

They’re also the simple questions available to anyone (with enough courage) in every situation. They raise the specter that things need not be as we’ve accepted them.

Nor is the question ‘Why?’ beyond our scope. It’s perhaps the only strength we share regardless of upbringing or social standing. From our first days of speech we ask ‘Why?’ … and at some point we stop. Why?

We’re born with the urge to ask ‘Why?’, when we lose it, we begin to die.

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Somebody’s got to be the guardian
of the long term.
Marina V. N. Whitman

Nothing just happens, there’s always a cause. There’s little we can do about the bulk of it. Gravity rules landslides, electricity controls the lightning, and Sun and Wind take care of the weather. Mother Nature aside, most of the rest is under our influence, if not our control.

It doesn’t always feel as if we have influence over tomorrow. Our best laid plans routinely get crushed and pushed aside. The flaw lies in how we plan for tomorrow. We create a single plan, and ignore a plan ‘b’, and ‘c’, and ‘d’… We act as if there is only a single tomorrow, rather than a vista of possibilities.

There’s never a single answer to the question ‘What might happen?’ Nor are there even right or wrong answers. Every reasonable answer contains a dollop of doom, a pinch of possibility, and a huge heaping of hope.

To chart a safe course through the bounty of possible tomorrows requires agile plans. Plans which we literally design to suffer failure gracefully. It’s not pessimistic to contemplate failure and avoid it… it’s only pessimistic to accept it.

Our future is by definition, plural, never singular.

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To escape criticism –
do nothing,
say nothing,
be nothing.
Elbert Hubbard

Pity the poor critic, in our imperfect world, their life is filled with work.

Don’t dare to try and help them, by building something new.
You’ll only increase their woes, by attracting them to you.

And their work is unappreciated, though flawless through and through.
Their only goal? Perfection! And they’ll achieve it when you’re through.

No matter what you build, be it big or huge or small,
it’s filled with imperfections, and the critic finds them all.

Ignoring them is difficult, they’re fast and mean and tiny.
No matter how well intentioned, their words are dark and spiny.

They stick in cracks in ego, they pull down self esteem.
They weaken built up confidence, and disrupt the strongest team.

Avoiding them is easy, under camouflage is best,
crawl inside a deep dark hole and shhh…say nothing – do nothing – that’ll put ’em to the test!

Oh and one more thing? They’ll never like this little pithy ditty…
my, my, my… what a dreadful, awful, pity!

Criticism like lightning, is a fact of life, rise above others and it’ll strike.

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In the City,
time becomes visible.
Lewis Mumford

Sit today under a childhood tree and you sit in the shade of yesterday.

In the countryside, time moves slowly enough for the seasons to dance in stately circles. From year to year the changes are inconsequential, minor and repetitive.

Sit in the city at a corner cafe and you sit in the path of an oncoming future. In the city, time is pushed aside, hurried and harried. It piles up upon itself, incapable of making way for the next great thing, it then topples over like a breaking wave washing away reflection and solitude.

We and we alone, separate the country from the city. We’re the cause of the differences and the reason time takes flight. Other than the acts of God, where the ground shakes and wind blows, change doesn’t just ‘happen.’ It isn’t a random event, there’s always a cause with determination. That cause is us.

Somewhere between the lazy shade of a leafy tree and the center of a twenty lane highway is our preferred pace of change. Examining where we are, in relation to where we’d like to be, is a personal choice.

Left unconstrained, there’s no speed limit to change. Change can shatter time.

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