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To Change or Not to Change? That Is the Question!
Michael Esseling

Michael Esseling

Remem­ber the time you were fool­ing around the house or explored the world togeth­er with your friends? Remem­ber the time when you were only lim­it­ed by your phys­i­cal capa­bil­i­ties to grab the much-desired sweets on the shelf above? Maybe you recall that just a bit or maybe not at all. Or maybe you already have kids and you prob­a­bly just told them the third time in a row not to chew on that pen­cil while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly plac­ing their hand on the hot­plate you just turned on. But what does all that have to do with busi­ness or the fear of change?

When we were tod­dlers, we sim­ply explored a yet unknown world. No mat­ter what it took — we just had to climb that tree. But when we entered school, and through­out our social cir­cles, we learned what is accept­able in our cul­ture and what not. In oth­er words, we accept­ed to stay on the ground instead of climb­ing trees. We devel­oped cer­tain ideas and per­cep­tions of life and work that slow­ly became bind­ing habits. Doing so is impor­tant because it is part of con­duct­ing busi­ness in a sus­tain­able man­ner and also teach­es us how to behave in dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions. Yet, because our inter­nal and exter­nal process­es turn into a rou­tine, we often do things with­out explor­ing them; we just do as we are told.

“Train Yourself to Let Go of Everything You Fear to Lose.” (Yoda)

Because we do things the way some­body ordered us to do them, is one rea­son we are afraid of change. What hap­pens if I do things a lit­tle dif­fer­ent than my boss expect­ed me to do them? Some employ­ees might even be afraid of los­ing their job or not get­ting their desired pro­mo­tion when they devi­ate from the norm. In gen­er­al, the human brain likes mat­ters that it can cal­cu­late and knows the out­come of. If we are uncer­tain about the out­come of a sit­u­a­tion, we will be stressed. Yet, the world does not remain the same. In fact, it changes faster and more rad­i­cal than ever. Thus, one of the most valu­able rou­tines in times of uncer­tain­ty is the rou­tine of adapt­abil­i­ty. Try to under­stand your hes­i­ta­tion and get com­fort­able with new expe­ri­ences.

By the way — there is a term that describes the fear of change: Metathe­sio­pho­bia. To be hon­est, we haven’t found out yet how to pro­nounce this word prop­er­ly. But it’s Latin, which sounds clever. Did you know that there is also a pho­bia called Anati­dae­pho­bia? This term describes the (irra­tional) deep fear of being per­ma­nent­ly watched by a duck. We don’t know what to make out of this. Except Peking duck.

Change, Adapt and Overcome.

Back to busi­ness. Change should be embraced and be a part of every healthy com­pa­ny cul­ture. Cap­tain Obvi­ous sends his regards. But did some­one ever tell you how?

Give your employ­ees room to explore and trust them, instead of being afraid that they can­not han­dle free­dom. Cre­ate a sys­tem that enables the emer­gence of new habits by imple­ment­ing spe­cif­ic design prin­ci­ples like infor­ma­tion trans­paren­cy, an open feed­back cul­ture or the col­lec­tive dis­tri­b­u­tion of respon­si­bil­i­ties. Doing this, your employ­ees will not rein­vent the wheel or turn your com­pa­ny into a cir­cus on the oth­er hand. It will empow­er them to not just live with the change con­cept of some­one else, but to cre­ate their own ideas.

Fur­ther­more, change means to exam­ine our­selves crit­i­cal­ly. We like to agree with our own opin­ion and seek out peo­ple who share that opin­ion. But how many of us are seri­ous­ly try­ing to under­stand a dif­fer­ing opin­ion and crit­i­cal­ly look at their own opin­ion to see the advan­tages and flaws in both opin­ions? This might serve as an exam­ple of a busi­ness process as well. It is impor­tant that a process works and peo­ple exe­cute it reli­ably. Yet, it is just as impor­tant that you know about the weak­ness of that par­tic­u­lar process and keeps it flex­i­ble, so it can be altered to suit par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tions or improves in gen­er­al.

Instead of being afraid of change, we should think about how to use our child­like curios­i­ty to cre­ate new oppor­tu­ni­ties for long-term suc­cess. This does not mean to change any- and every­thing, but just we like go through dif­fer­ent phas­es in life, there are times when a change can seri­ous­ly improve a mat­ter. Some­times, we do not know if a change will yield the desired result. But if we accept the mat­ter that one part of change is the fact that it some­times works and some­times doesn’t, we will be more sus­cep­ti­ble to try some­thing new in the first place.

I am Michael, Part­ner at 1789 — Beyond Rev­o­lu­tion , a strate­gic con­sul­tan­cy with a focus on help­ing orga­ni­za­tions cre­ate new struc­tures and empow­er­ing teams. Do you agree or dis­agree with my thoughts? Do you want to share your sto­ry? Please leave a com­ment below!

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