Do some of the strategies that we work on matter more than others? This is not to discount the importance of any strategy that an enterprise chooses to invest in. However, as an example to make the case more directly: when lives, livelihoods and quality of life are directly on the line, do these changes require more of us (inspire us more)? If your personal approach allows for such a value judgment do you bring yourself to such work differently? Along the same lines, I find it intriguing that so many of us are compelled to do pro bono work for non-profits and charities – seems to me that this work has different dimensions.
Earlier this year our Chairman, Daryl Conner, was asked to do a keynote for the first global conference of the Association of Change Management Practitioners. He chose to discuss “The Why Behind What We Do”. He asked us all to consider three questions:
- Why do we do what we do?
- Do we make a difference?
- Are we living up to our responsibilities?
As I reflected on the types of changes I have worked on I realized that they were qualitatively different and their unique dimensions required, and inspired, different responses from me. Understanding the differences has focused my approach and requires me to constantly invest in getting better at this pivotal discipline. I believe our Change Management work often makes a difference in the success rates of critical strategic initiatives that impact the enterprise, the community and often even the economy. This suggests a higher order of responsibility of diligence on these Changes That Matter.
In many cases, these projects were not even the first attempt to solve a problem or to secure a strategy. However, in every case the project was started in good conscience with the belief that the planning was appropriate – it’s what we don’t know that snags us. Experienced change practitioners have some pretty solid ideas about what to expect – about what winners do differently.
The biggest difference that Daryl’s keynote highlighted for me was the energy that I brought to the table and the greater responsibility required of us in Changes That Matter.
To the degree that any change produces profit, it is important. There is contractual and fiduciary responsibility to deliver. To the degree that it can directly or indirectly beneficially affect other people, it matters exponentially more.
Consider the difference between a process project that reduces the Average Call Handle time in a call centre and a project that launches a drug to address breast cancer or AIDs. The skills and tools we bring might be the same, but more is on the line in the second case – it demands that we be better, be more effective, more inspired, more committed.
What kinds of changes matter?
- Any change that affects the well-being of others – kindred spirits, children, employees, customers, patients, patrons, communities – matters. Changing packaging, improving a production line, innovating service delivery, implementing technologies, improving capabilities – all of these matter. They make the organization stronger, more competitive, and healthier.
- Work that seems to be of a higher order, in my own frame of reference, both in complexity and in aspiration – might include examples like: Doctors without Borders, Red Cross, FEMA, Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers / Big Sisters and so many more.
Many of us are inspired by these kinds of change and this kind of work. Does it call to you differently? Do you bring your spirit, energy and capability to it differently? I think we all do. If I say “I lean into it” do you know what I mean? It is difficult to define – and that it the purpose of this post, to start thinking aloud about what these differences are and what they mean.
Are you interested in exploring Changes That Matter, what they ask of us and how we can approach them differently? There is a great discussion on now in LinkedIn’s Organization Change Practitioners group entitled “Announcement from Organizational Change Practitioners: introducing Changes That Matter” – Daryl will be dropping in to share his thoughts also from time to time. Hope you will join us there.
You can listen to the full audio “The Why Behind What We Do” and shorter clips here.
Interested in following others who are thinking about this topic?
- Jeff Good does a great blog “GoodConversations”.