maandag 21 maart 2011

So, you really want to change? Go micro!

Yo..., I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want!
So tell me what you want, what you really really want?
I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want!
So tell me what you want, what you really really want?
I wanna, uh- I wanna, uh- I wanna, uh- I wanna, uh- I wanna really
really really wanna zigazig haaaah.
1996 "Wannabe," Spice Girls

Arend Ardon, partner at Holland Consulting Group, devoted his thesis and book to how managers are the main roadblocks to organisational change. Even when they want to enable it. Because of their unconscious, automated behaviour. Or so I read this morning (article in Dutch). Ardon reminded me of the Spice Girls' talk, and how hard it can be to accomplish what you really want. Talking about that is one important thing, like I stated at my 3' TedTalk at TedxAms . But talking is just part of any successformula for change .

Having worked both as a manager and as an employee, I can completely confirm how hard it is to be part of a change, as opposed to part of the roadblock. But I can do better. I'd like to propose a strategy for actually enabling change. I proudly present micro change - analogue to the concept of a micro loan as introduced by our wonderful Princess Maxima, and the micro blog Twitter has been since 5 years (hurray! birthday today :) ).

Micro change is working for me as a private person, effectively improving quality of all aspects of my life and that of those around me as we speak. And having fun in the process. It might just work for you, wheather you are a manager or a proper human (ha ha). Of course, there will be many, many roads to this particular Rome. Or should I say, Walhalla of organisational change consultants? Either way; please invent your own tactic, if you prefer. This one is based on the writer's golden rule: "show, don't tell" (thank you Mireille).

Micro change - a strategy for aspiring change catalysts

1. Seek out situations where you know you'll abort to resistance behaviour. Look for small and safe cases first. For example, when you're having coffee or drinks with a distant acquaintance. Someone outside your work or neighbourhood circle, preferably. Waiting for a train or bus could provide an excellent opportunity as well. Try Twitter, use an alias if you like. Mention different topics until La Resistance hits the fan.
2. React to whatever triggered you as if your critic is right. I know, that sounds weird, doesn't it? Do try, though. Even if everything inside you is screaming how wrong he is and why. It's OK to be scared. Just check if the fear has any root in your life's safety - is your life itself in danger? If not, you are safe to proceed.
3. Savour how things unrolled privately - on the way home or when you go to sleep. Don't let the guineapig critic in on your little experiment. Try confiding in a good friend or your partner if you like. If you're successful. Or if something interesting happened.
4. Rinse and repeat. As you progress, book more successes and create more options for your behaviour, you can start experimenting "closer to home". In situations, with people that mean something. You can accelerate as quickly as you like, shifting from first to fifth gear. No matter if your engine goes dead. You can always restart. No one will notice your "failure" when you show your usual resistance behaviour. They are used to it.

This strategy may enable you to create and practise new behaviour. Effortlessly overtaking your usual reactions. It is irrelevant if you even know exactly what your usual reactions are. The only thing you need is that gut feeling that says "NO! I don't want your behaviour" as a starting point for the exercise. From this point onward, it's: "next!".

Good luck! Please let me know how that went? If you decide to give it a micro go?

PS: a big, hearty thank you goes out to these sources of inspiration:
- In 2006, Mireille got me back in the writing saddle. Also, she pointed me to the following huge comfort and inspirator:
- Keith Johnstone "Impro", 1979 (I read it in '07)
- William Hall, (trained with him in Arnhem '09), @william_hall
- Coert Visser's, @DoingWhatWorks (followed his blog '09)
- @jack @florian: hurray! 5 yrs Twitter. Thanks to you and all early adapters for enabling and inventing the microdialogue :)

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