Saturday, 23 May 2009


Experts who tell you they understand the change process are generally lying.

I had a vivid experience of this some time ago when I was working with a Company which, due to a reorganization, was going to shed a third - yes, a third of its workforce. Wisely, the Company invested in an intervention to help their management prepare for and explore the impact of that change. Equally wisely they commissioned yours truly and some colleagues to deliver this. We used a very open process, demanding strong facilitation skills in order that people could really explore.
In one of the workshops, I found myself facilitating a group comprising quite senior managers. We started. "We, of course, being senior managers, understand all about change," they said. "Oh yes, the change curve, Maslow's heirarchy of needs, Jo and Hari's window. You name it. We understand it. We know all about handling change." They stroked their ties with pride.
So it went for the first half of the morning. Blah, blah, I thought. So when it came to coffee time I sent the group off to congratulate themselves further over a nice cuppa and a bourbon or two. Meanwhile, with them out of the room, I removed a third of the chairs.
When they came back in, guess what happened? You got it. It all kicked off. Big time. People were shouting at each other, pulling rank to try and get a chair, arguing and yelling at each other and at me. "Just put the f*cking chairs back," growled one man an inch or so from my face. I thought there might actually have been physical violence.
After as long as I dared I called the thing to order and confessed where I'd hid the chairs. After I'd got everyone seated, I asked them "so how did you handle that change?"
It was a workshop for which the participants seemed to have the highest gratitude as, obviously, the discussion post chair removal had a greater reality. Not a model in sight. But a heightened sense of the sorts of responses we really make, and which catch us out in times of change.
I've been in the behaviour change business for twenty odd years. I haven't seen a model yet that explains the mellifluous flow of change in my own life. And in coaching and group dynamics I am still constantly surprised at the paradoxes and unexpected nature of changes.
I wish I knew more. But I suspect that it is the confidence and humility to say "I don't know" that is one of the most useful bits of equipment in times of change.

Friday, 15 May 2009


Someone I respect greatly recently wrote this:

"The capital of the human is the heart."

Yee hah.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


I saw an advert for a watch.

Instead of numbers on its face it just has the word NOW.

Think I want one of those for my birthday.

Saturday, 9 May 2009