One of the key pieces of my business and personal philosophy that I share with every client is that “all change is personal.” I alter it slightly when working with an organization, saying instead, “all organizational change is personal change.”  Though many have challenged me, it proves true time and time again that unless the people in an organization are willing to change themselves or are willing to accept change, changing policies, structures, rules, methodologies, strategies, etc. will meet certain failure.  Change is so fragile that often just by ignoring the changes those that are asked to implement the change can stop change in its tracks.

So, if all change is personal, why is the focus on the things of change?  I believe control has something to do with it.  People are messy but things can more easily be analyzed, organized and forced into a new order.  People on the other hand have to be won over.  Even if you initially can force people to change, unless they embrace the change, people can subtly sabotage things…  Often without conscious intent.

To help change get a foothold that can win the day, try focusing on two words: inclusion and trust.  Inclusion implies listening and actively seeking out feedback.  Trust is about credibility, reliability, emotional connections and most importantly unselfishness.  When people feel included to the point of having a sense of belonging, and they come to trust that management wants what’s in their best interest, change can be accepted.  The tipping point of progress can be reached.

Is your organization change ready?

Be Better

For years education has been focused on helping people “get a job” but shouldn’t it be helping people “find their calling?”  I’m sure many of you just nodded your head and some even said something like, “of course” or “hell yeah.”  It seems a “no brainer” that we would all be better off and happier if we were doing something we feel called to do.  So what exactly is a “calling.”  I’ve been pondering this since reading a recent post on LinkedIn about Bill Parcell’s new book.  It’s basically about his calling to be a football coach and how dejected he was when he decided to “get a job” so his family wouldn’t have to move.  In the end, his wife decided that the family would be happier if Bill followed his calling.  This inspired me on two fronts: 1. What is a calling?  2. How do callings mesh to make life better for a group (family, team, etc.)?  Today I’ll share a few of my thoughts on #1.

I believe a calling has to go further than just having an insatiable passion for something.  I know many people who have a passion for something but it will never be who they are or what they do.  I have a passion for eating chocolate chip cookies but it’s not my calling.  I have a passion for playing basketball but it’s not my calling.  A calling is something that goes much further.  From my perspective it includes 4 elements.  Motivation (passion to pursue), Ability (natural ability plus learned skill), Personality (fit with the type of work and people you will be working with), Spiritual (something beyond yourself is pulling [guiding] you toward this work).  In a way, if you look closely, your calling comes with MAPS.  So do you have a calling or did you just get a job?

Be Better

So, lots of people are into reality shows.  My wife and daughter love “The Amazing Race.”  But that’s not what this post is about.  I’m talking about the “real” reality.  So what is it?  Even more to the point, Is it?  Is there such a thing as reality?  Our world deals in so much “spin” that it’s hard to know what is real and what’s not.  So from a business perspective here is my take on reality.  Reality is a combination of what you stand for and what you do.  Lots of organizations tell the world they’re one thing (surprise, there’s a lot of spin in the marketing world) and act in a way that doesn’t quite fit the message.  Often they even share this great marketing message with their employees but the processes and systems; incentives and management style don’t encourage them to live that message.  The result: a disconnect with the customer, disgruntled and/or disillusioned employees and a bottom line that is literally at the bottom.

So what do you do?  It seems simple enough, just live your brand.  Be your message.  But knowing something and doing it aren’t the same thing. There is a definite knowing-doing gap in the business world.  We know we have a problem but aren’t willing to take a hard look at it and take the long term actions needed to resolve them.  Instead we continue to put band-aids on gaping wounds.  Discounts, sales, wild and crazy advertisements, new logos, new programs, flavor of the month training, benchmarking against the competition… we send people to conferences, we hold meetings (and more meetings, and more meetings)… but we fail to connect the pieces.  We talk and talk about innovation but do we innovate?  Yes, there are the few, but I’m talking about YOU.

Is it a leadership issue?  Yes.  The answer in a word is “courage.”  The courage to acknowledge that what got us here won’t create the organization we want to be (if we’ve ever taken the time to decide what that is).  With size often comes inertia and underlying that inertia is the fear of losing what we have. But as in overcoming any obstacle you first must acknowledge that obstacle.

Are you afraid of the future? Do you know your reality? Really?