Why is change so difficult?

Many people will tell you things about change that are true. Change is pain, be the change, change is a choice etc etc etc.  There are even bell curves that map your responses (denial, anger etc) as you undergo change. So in spite of all this why is change so difficult.

When you look at the habits of people today and compare them with a common change agenda you start to see a pattern.

  • We want performance / change is a performance blocker
  • We want to understand first then act  / change is risk and requires action before understanding
  • We want to change but you must see things our way (we are naturally programmed to react to a one-sided perspective) / change requires an open “both/and” perspective as a start
  • We think if we change our mind or feelings we change / but change is rooted in behaviour
  • Lets keep this positive / but change needs reality which is most often negative and painful

What we start to see is how functionally different change is to our normal way of life. These quite natural habits are rooted into our culture and our upbringing, and the way we function on a daily basis. So they are good and true. Just not when it comes to change. The processes and habits used to function in the world are the ones you need to let go of in order to change, that’s why it’s so hard. It can feel like self-betrayal at the deepest level. Sometimes you have to give up that which has served you so well to this point and that’s not really anything any sensible person would want to do.

So when I go into an organisation what I mostly get is yes we want to change but:

  • Don’t disrupt the performance
  • Help us understand what we must do (so we can think or feel we are in control, then have lots of meetings [and more meetings] about the change as a clever way of avoiding it)
  • Don’t ask us to be open to both sides (just make the change inside of our existing paradigms)
  • Don’t get too real here lets all keep it happy (anything painful or confrontational is not allowed)

These kind of requests that show a lack of real understanding of what it takes to change and helps entrench an anti-change sentiment.

So here is some good advice:

  • Stop trying to change everything all the time, its counter productive and destructive to regular business functioning (and often a desperate means to do the same thing differently which does not help at all)
  • Make sure the change is clearly defined, has a timeline and is measured regularly (behaviour /task mapped) as it proceeds and ends
  • Make sure you have a support structure for the people going through the change, its where your change will happen (or not)

Value a word that can help you make change happen

One of the classic reasons for failed change is that the change itself starts from a unrealistic place. Its not the objective that we hope to achieve that is the real challenge but rather how the starting point is unrealistic.

Most often companies (and therefore people in companies) have a way of convincing themselves that things are ok as a way of coping. They don’t do the hard sometimes painful work of realistic self reflection. They think that a positive frame will somehow allow them to keep going and that things will work out fine in the end, and thank goodness sometimes they do.

Unfortunately this is not the most common outcome, what normally happens is some highly creative elaborate scheme to hide as much of the bad stuff and inflate as much of the good stuff so we can convince ourselves of a reasonable outcome.

In other words we deceive ourselves through justifying certain outcomes through reason and logic until we get the necessary picture we require, ignoring the inner prompt trying to make us aware that something is not quite right.

From this point on we have to hold these deceptions going forward and so our starting point for any future change or growth becomes more difficult.

In change the first piece of work that needs doing is to see, to create awareness of what is actually being done. To move away from all the persuasive conversations and emotional pleas and to look at what is being done and in what time.

This is where the word value comes to our aid it helps us to see what we are really doing and not what we think or feel we are doing.

Consider this….What you value is what you do

Having facilitated thousands of people though the MC4C process I can say with confidence this is where you get the most resistance/ argument or need for discussion, or sometimes just a blank stare. This is often for a very good reason as people have not been taught or up-skilled to reflect in this way and so they stick to what they know.

The real challenge lies in realising that what you value can also be something  negative or something you think or feel you don’t value. So the key to seeing value is firstly as an action in time and not as a belief or feeling. That value primarily doesn’t speak to right and wrong or good and bad beliefs and feelings but to what you do each day.

This way way of seeing value helps cut through any deceptions or unrealities that relate to change.  You change by changing by doing something new or different not by changing an idea or a feeling as that does not guarantee an automatic change of behaviour.

So if your business has a clear idea of what it wants to change but does not seem to be able to get the necessary outcome perhaps its time to check what you value and find the right starting place for the necessary change

Change / Bread / Ovens – Gearing up for 2017

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For the last three years, I have significantly cut back on using MyCube4Change. The reason is twofold. One I needed a rest, working with people in change (with people’s pain) had worn me down, and secondly I wanted to do something where I was more personally involved in bringing change in Southern Africa and not just serving other people’s change agendas.

Hence the birth of BREADrev www.breadrev.com which is a much more tactile endeavour. Now up and running with a small staff and HQ in Fish Hoek Cape Town.

I have also had some time to rework and think about how MC4C can best assist people in change and what part of change I can offer the most impact.  This means there are a few key changes going forward:

  • The theoretical component of MC4C has been cut by 75% leaving a more simple and effective process.
  • As a result of the above there is now a much shorter equipping time (3hrs) which is much more experientially based allowing the application to be easier. 
  • I will no longer use MC4C  to assist with the process of helping people discover what they need to change and only work with application of change (make the change happen). So MC4C will be used with people who know what they want to change.
  • A greater emphasis will be placed on the “evidence of change” using a process of peer-based accountability that relates to the execution of single responses.
  • The above will also enable easier measurement of the actual change happening. So clearer progress and change results will be more easily available.

This all came about a few months back when I was on my annual retreat with a few special men. When it became quite obvious to me that although I enjoy doing BREADrev, that not to do MC4C was against a larger will for my life.

As I reflected on this I muttered the words “change.. bread.. ovens” under my breath and one of the men happened to hear me and questioned what I had just said. What resulted was a discussion where it became clear to me and those with me that I needed to do all three.

So my new business cards from 2017 will read Change Bread Ovens as I try to find the balance of assisting with change and leading BREADrev in 2017.

I am really exited and with the new changes to MC4C and know that going forward I will be more effective in assisting businesses apply change.