Change management is the new black.
You know, the in thing. Everybody is talking about it, wants it, needs it, is doing it.
And that’s ok because change is perhaps the defining characteristic of our day. That’s not for a moment to say that at other times, in other places change hasn’t been significant, or real, or rapid, or hard.
But the breadth, and scope and speed of change in our society is breathtaking. Technological, moral, ethical, political, cultural, economic, relational.
Some of it, of course, we choose. But some of it chooses us. Sometimes the world changes around us in spite of our best efforts to keep things steady, or to hold onto days past.
If we eventually can accept that there’s no going back, there comes a time when we have to figure our how to respond, to react, to accept, to embrace, to thrive in the new.
I’ve been thinking a little about this question this week. And like everybody, I have a theory.
So I’m going to test it on you.
All 3 of you. 😉
My theory is this:
Before we can embrace, enfold, enjoy, respond to change, find a new way, we have to go through a kind of change-management version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.
Remember Maslow from first year Psych? He offered this pyramid of need, saying that unless the lower levels are firm, we’ll never get to the further up stuff (or something like that….I confess I spent most of my first year Psych subject playing naughts-and-crosses in the back row of UQ’s Abel Smith Lecture Theatre with my friend Nerissa….but I digress).
I think Scott’s Hierarchy of Change (do you like what I did there? Kind of rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?) operates in a similar way.
Before we can get to the technical stuff – the skills, the money, the knowledge, the physical items, the structures and organisational re-wiring that sometimes matter -we have to deal with some more basic, and thoroughly non-negotiable stuff first.
First, in my view, comes hope.
Such a simple word, but one that that cannot be bypassed if we are to respond to a world changing around us. You might call it something else – like possibility, or inspiration, or purpose or even just “why”.
I call it hope.
Hope that there is a new day beyond the current one.
Hope that something new might emerge from something difficult (that there might be resurrection the other side of death….that’s for the Christians out there)
Hope that we just might survive this change thrust upon us.
Until we can unearth, instill or inspire hope, well, not much else matters.
Once hope is in place, I think we can move on to the very closely related, but subtly different next level.
If hope provides the faintest possibility of something emerging, imagination is when we take up our HB pencil and start to sketch it out.
When we start to play with the question “what might this look like?”
When we do workshoppy kinds of things like brainstorming and listing and butchers-papering.
Evoking imagination isn’t always the easiest thing – but through stories and experiences, through patience and copious amounts of tea and coffee and scones with jam and cream, my experience is that trapped inside all of us is a 3 year old who loves to imagine…..as long as we’re given permission and kept safe while it happens.
Some might call it vision.
For me it’s imagination. Fundamental. Critical. Non-negotiable. And, importantly, playful.
After hope and imagination we start to get to the practicalities.
We deal with things of capacity.
We think about skills, and knowledge. We think about money and plant. We think about structure and organisation. We think about “what do we need to bring this vision to reality?”.
And beyond that, it’s all fine tuning, tweaking and the time-honoured action-reflection cycle.
So that’s my theory. It’s like a pyramid.
It’s like Maslow.
And the stuff that takes the most time, the most effort, the most intentionality, is Hope and Imagination.
The capacity stuff generally comes easily if we get those first layers right.
So….over to you….let your imagination run riot. Remember times and places and experiences where you were dealing with change and tell me…does this ring true?