Be the Change or Manage the Change?

The current position I am in is truly challenging. Since November I am priveleged to work for a first-rate consulting firm in Johannesburg. Our field of expertise is organisational change management. The general response that I get to this is “what is that?” or “how does that work?”. To be quite honest I am still determining that myself but what I can say is the following: When things change (and this is a certainty) organisations have to respond, adapt, and sustain. How do you respond to change and how do you ensure that the changes that have been envisaged will stick? That is where we come in – we make change work, we make it stick. That said and done I would like to talk about me now and there is nothing you can do about it (except not read).

Here is the dilemma that I am facing in our business/field and I strongly believe you will be able to relate this to challenges in your own life. To a certain extent it still continues the discussion on the King and the Clown (just scroll down for the post). As stated, we manage change. So in other words once the impact of change has been asessed and a desired route has been decided on we (consultants) come on board to drive the process. Very, very nice! Yes indeed, but here is the challenge: to what extent do we as individuals mereley manage the change in our lives without taking part in the strategic decisions of where I am heading? How much is there to which we can simply say C’est la vie?

I attended very good training the other day that focussed on managing polarities. What’s that you might ask – simple: opposites such as work-life and home-life; planning and spontanaity etc. In this regard our current conversation falls nicely into this classification of a polarity. How much of the change in my life can I plan or do I have some form of control over? At the other pole: how much of the change has an impact on me and I can’t direct? Is this at all a relevant question: How much will I impact change and how much will the change have an impact on me?! Is this perhaps the same thing. It would be quite suitable to see it this way because that is another charateristic of polarities – they are interdependant. The one relies on the other for definition. Let me formulate the question more clearly: If I am willing to change will I not effect change?

To continue this discussion and give you some food for thought I would like to suggest considdering the famous words of Mahatma Gandhi – “Be the change you want to see in the world”.