Beyond and Beneath – changes

11th February, 2018

Have you ever tripped over something that was so profound yet was so simple to grasp? A few years ago in Wellington I was clearing up a room after a meeting and noticed a screwed-up diagram in the waste paper bin. It contained a scribbled version of the diagram below that I later redrew.

If nothing changes

Change is often hard but it has one inevitable characteristic: if nothing changes as a result of what we are trying to achieve, then nothing changes. So often, no matter how hard we push, things get stuck. This diagram is all about how to figure out why something in your particular situation is not moving.

The top line includes some of the things that are needed to make change happen. We need a clear vision of what we are trying to achieve and the skills necessary to facilitate the change. We need incentives for accomplishing the change coupled with appropriate resources. To carry us step-by-step through the stages we also need an action plan.

The following lines take away just one component from that recipe and show you at the end of the line why you might be stalled wondering why nothing is happening. With no vision, there is often confusion since people have no clear idea why the change is needed. When people lack skills to carry out their tasks, there is anxiety. When there is no immediate incentive to keep going, people stop.

Resources are an interesting component. I think of skills as being the capabilities my team already possesses within themselves. Resources are different. They are the skills, facilities or equipment that exist outside your team that you can call on when needed. One definition of being resourceful is having lots of favors you can call in when needed.

I said before that we are often lousy planners. That last line is the result of not having a proper action plan. That approach dooms us to make many false starts and retrace our steps in frustration.

The most useful way I have found to use this chart with someone is to go down the last column and ask them if any of those outcomes resonate with their current situation. We then work along that line, discussing what is happening in their case, seeing if any of the components are missing. We often then repeat that looking at other lines for other symptoms.

I have no idea who drew the original sketch diagram but it has become an invaluable and simple one-page tool that I have shared with clients and students many times. I hope it proves to be a great catalyst to help your team restart their stalled journey towards a goal that demands change.

Click here to download a PDF copy of If nothing changes.

I love this stuff..

Next installment: Spots…

Author: Rockweather

I am a writer, musician, teacher, and researcher at the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) in Auckland, New Zealand.

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