Making Change Happen
I was delighted the other day to have a brief conversation with Mary Lynn Manns, who is the co-author of Fearless Change, an excellent book on making change happen.
I told her I had this idea: We can let change happen to us. (I was thinking mostly of being passive in the face of bad change.) Or we can make change happen (the good change).
This dilemma was expressed by Shakespeare:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them…
We mean something slightly different than Shakespeare (Hamlet). Not just to oppose the negative changes but to advocate for positive change.
It takes guts.
I think, for many, it does not feel like guts. It feels like this: “I have to make this change happen, and I don’t care if I get nicked or scratched along the way.” The nicks and scratches are a ‘small price to pay’…is the way they feel. But also another large group feels it takes guts. They feel they are taking a risk. Perhaps so.
Anyway, we are better people for making the good changes happen. It makes us better people.
To make it happen, we must be by turns aggressive and patient. By turns, emotional and thoughtful. By turns, using laughter and seriousness.
How do we make this happen?
Well, for both the change and ourselves, we are the stuff that dreams are made. There is no science here.
But there are still many good ideas, and some of these ideas have been tried many times. In the hands of the professional, they are usually or often successful. But still, it is an art that requires feel.
Mary Lynn Manns and others call them patterns, these things we use to make change happen.
The first pattern is Evangelist. That would be you, you are the Evangelist.
The Evangelist comes up with the good idea (somehow). (Hint: I think the first idea to implement is Scrum. (smile)) Then start to…well, to evangelize. To get others to try the idea. To help the idea.
A couple of more patterns:
Ask For Help: The Evangelist asks others for help with the new idea. Maybe help define it. Maybe help implement it. Maybe help with evangelizing. Also, have you noticed how wonderfully seductive it is to be asked for help. Who could possibly have more taste, brilliance, and acumen than the person who would ask me for help?
Innovator: Usually in your group you have some Innovators. They are the ones who ‘like to do new things.’ Especially ask them for help. Get them on your side. In part, they are the ones most likely to have a positive attitude toward trying new things — they are easily convinced to try new things.
Just Say Thanks: Again, it is remarkable how good manners can get people to go along with a new idea. Saying ‘thanks’ for the help can…help a lot.
Step by Step: Some of us want to make one big grand change. And be done with it. But experience shows that it is almost always best done, in some sense, step by step. One smaller change at a time added together turns into something quite big.
Small Successes: This is a similar idea, but somewhat different. As you have successes, even if small, be sure to celebrate them. The small celebrations will delight the change supporters, and confound its enemies. (Mark Twain said: When in doubt tell the truth. It will confound your enemies and astound your friends.)
In the book Fearless Change, Mary Lynn Manns and Linda Rising have gathered much more detail on these patterns. Indeed, on a total of 48 patterns.
You will find patterns you have done (but probably not recently). You will find patterns you have heard that your friends tried successfully (but you have never used). And you will hear of completely new patterns.
The main idea is: use one pattern each day.
I think, if you do that, you will get there.