Monday, June 4, 2018

To Change or Not to Change

Change comes to everyone, whether we want it or not.  At home, at our place of business, the things we touch and the things that we do.  Whether we are in times of transition or not, the world around us is constantly in a state of change.  As a project manager, previously a consultant, change was and is a part of what I do.  To be honest, it is easier to take a step back and guide others through the process, because I have spent time reviewing, analyzing and planning for the journey leading to the change event.  Sometimes in my “world,” I am in the middle of the swirl of events and have not taken the time to step back and realize that a change is happening. 

As there are changes that I am facing (which are continuous), there are some things that I have come to realize.  I can group these things into three basics areas – signs of change, refusing to change and the challenges of change.

Signs of change:

  • Things happening in the world around us:  A generation or two ago, there was a mass exodus of families from the cities moving to the suburbs.  Similarly, today many young adults have decided to move into more urban areas.  This has an impact on how we conduct business and volunteer/religious organizations.
  • Events occurring in our lives: How many of us are within 5 – 10 years of a lifecycle change, whether children, grandchildren, parents or ourselves?  This effects our pocket as well as can cause significant changes to our households.
  • Impact of technology: How much of the business world has changed with the growth of Amazon?  Or, remember a few years ago when a familiar Microsoft document with an “x” appended to the file type that they could no longer open.  Technology impacts how we communicate, how we handle business, and potentially, how we run our households.
  • Customers are not interested:  What we offer is no longer what others desire.  This can impact personal, business and religious factors.

Signs of refusing change:

  • Manufacturing excuses:  When faced with making a change, we find an excuse for not moving forward, primarily by making up reason to avoid, delay or deflect facing what is staring us directly in the face.
  • History becomes our favorite topic:  Our favorite way to not face reality is to reminisce about past achievements from a different time or a different place.  Whether or not it is relevant to today, we look back on the golden days, sometimes forgetting the struggles and efforts we went through to attain that point in time.
  • Putting on the blinders:  We just plainly ignore the reality that is going on around us.  This can sometimes lead to the reference of sticking one’s head in the sand, like an ostrich, so as not to see the truth.
  • Not me syndrome:  Change is for someone else, but not for me.  Historically, we have seen the impact to groups of people thinking it is someone else’s problem and not them.  Many organizations have not survived due to this.
  • Feelings of contentment: “I am where I want to be”

Challenges of change:

  • Opening eyes:  Help others to see the world as it is and the new opportunities provided.
  • Change in the mindset:  Going from “Who Moved My Cheese?”, to where can we go from here?
  • Fear of the Unknown (FEAR = False Expectations / Emotions Appear Real, Finding Excuses and Reasons):  The natural survival instinct is to apply what we know to a situation to keep us safe.  When faced with the unknown, we have a fear (whether real or perceived).

As a project manager, I think about the above items at the onset of a project, and during the project, to help me to think of how others might perceive things.  I can apply the same process to new projects (opportunities) at home and other areas of my life.  When Bob Dylan sang, “The Times They Are-a Changing,” it was not only an anthem to the 60’s but to life.  As the one line states, “As the present now, Will later be past,” holds as true today as when first penned. 

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