Change is hard, but soccer moms and US soldiers may have the answer…

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I heart change

LONDON – A great article about parents and sports has got the conversations going at the school gate in my neighbourhood. Citing British research this Australian lady explains that 70% of 13 year-olds quit sport. And that it’s not for reasons we might think.

WHAT do you reckon is one of the main reasons most kids quit sport? … Children hate mothers and fathers behaving aggressively on the sideline of junior sports events, especially their own.

And that got us thinking about ‘change’ ‎and how people respond to it. For young kids it is genuinely hard to train and fight for a spot on a school team or an extra-mural competition. Whether it’s lacrosse or tai kwon do, there are many more appealing things to do, for naturally lazy people, than to keep working at a sport. When the people you trust are complaining about it constantly, and making your life difficult, it’s not going to make the desire to participate grow.

Business change is similar in many ways. Change is hard. Whether it’s getting aligned to a new strategy, restructuring a team, or changing you IT systems. Most people naturally try to build their lives into routines that are as simple and as easy to follow as possible. So when change happens it seems like a whole lot of extra effort is required. Add to that the probability that senior leaders, managers and the guys in smoking hut are all saying “this sucks” and “this is going to be hard”, and you have a recipe for disaster.

The origin of the word‎ ‘sabotage’ is from Dutch workers placing their shoes (sabots) into the new machinery of industrialisation so that the machines would break down. I like the metaphorical image of workers putting their shoes into the machinery of change. They may not do it purposefully. They may not even do it consciously, but invariably they do.

An article in Time magazine this week repeats the expression popularised by US soldiers in Iraq: “Embrace the suck”. Meaning the situation may not be ideal, but you have to go with it.

We’re‎ never going to make Embrace the Suck one of our service lines here at Able and How (I still reel at hearing anyone use the words). But it serves as a good set of watchwords for what we call Change Capability — which is one of our service lines.

How can organisations get better at building the capability to deal with change? We know that change is here to ‎stay. We know that the pace of change is picking up. But we don’t really know what our companies should do about it.

The answer is to build you change capability. Or, find new ways to stay in the game. Or‎, as US soldiers in Iraq would say…

/df



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