25 May 2017

Be the change

Hey there! Now for something completely different…we would like to share our insight on how to start change around you, at the instant and impact you want.

I have been bringing my daughter to school for quite some time now. When we arrive at school, the house rules are to shake hands and say hello to the school director every day. At first, my daughter was afraid and didn’t want to do that. And I can understand that. For a 4-year old child, the school director can be a very imposing and even scary person. Because it is important a lot of parents start explaining tot their children why it is important and that they should do it. I just started by shaking hands with the director every day. And after a few days, she started doing it as well. And she’s shaken hands ever since for 3 years now and enjoying it.

There was a saying by, who was it again? Ghandi!

“Be the change you want to see in this world”

Wow. In this instant, as you were reading this, something changed. Inside you! What happened most likely is that by reading this, you envision the statement as something big, and because of it being said by a world changer as Ghandi, for us simple mortals it will be close to impossible to create a change with such an impact. But in fact, by interpreting it in that way you’re missing the point. In our vision, the meaning of this saying is exactly the opposite: everybody can be the change in his own world. The only thing you need to do is to be the first to change.

Interesting, isn’t it? Most likely and hopefully, the shift this insight brings to mind for you as a reader is threefold:

First, in the next change objective you will stop asking other people to change. Instead, you take the first steps yourself. Asking other people to change is senseless, and even not in line with your own belief of the need for change. If you would really believe in the need for change, in fact you would be the first to take this leap of faith. This experience will allow you to understand how hard it is to change and to help others in their struggle for change. Second, you have the best measure ever for the scale of impact that your change will have. The “size of your world” if you will. The size of the impact of change is exactly the same as that of the step or leap you yourself are willing to take. The bigger and bolder the step, the bigger the impact. And that is why we believe that Ghandi had such an impact, he was willing and daring to take the consequences of this huge change on himself! And third, most change objectives are high over terms like “ownership” or “customer centric thinking”, but what does it look like when we take more “ownership” or we work more “customer centric”? Nobody knows, somebody has to show it to the rest. By showing how to take “ownership” or create “customer value” you inspire people to do the same. After all, people do not listen to what you say, they look at what you do.

In our change management practice, we’ve seen a lot of managers explaining to people time and time again why they had to change, and didn’t succeed or have an impact. But as you’ve read in the above example, you can understand easily why this is the case: they did not lead the way into the uncharted territory. Change is a difficult thing, often incurring fear and uncertainty for the early adopters. And if you’re not leading the way, you’re like the general telling his soldiers to go to battle, without joining the fight.

Last Friday at a party, I spoke to an ex-CEO about his past adventures. And in the conversation he came to the insight that he himself had been the change. He had executed a large change at his company, and got a lot of resistance at first. But what he did, is that he started writing a blog about what he encountered trying to change. At first people thought this was an odd move. But after two years the openness about the changes he had encountered, the impact on the company was huge!

I would like to invite you to join us and be your own change. I’ve taken the first step, by sharing my insights. I hope this inspires you to take your own steps as well. Let’s be the change we want to see in this world!

Our next Blog will be about “Letting go to create deep change”

Max Vermeer is international Business Coach at OpenBook.Works