Change is Inevitable

It’s funny. In my consulting work, I meet a lot of people who think that change never happens in their organizations. Or they say, “Only death and taxes are sure things.”

But I know that change is the only sure thing in life. We change from the time we are born until we die. Sometimes—indeed, often—we instigate these changes. Every time I go to the gym, I’m instigating a change that I want. If you’re thinking of changing how you develop or test or manage, you’re instigating change. Sometimes change happens to you. But change is inevitable.

We go through a process of change. Virginia Satir captured this with her change model. Satir Change Model

We start at a certain level of capability in Old Status Quo until we encounter a Foreign Element. If we want that change, such as a new job, we’ve created our own foreign element. In my case, my inner ear hemorrhage was my foreign element. Then, we stay in Chaos for a while, until we get a Transforming Idea. Sometimes, we stay in Chaos for seconds. Sometimes, we stay in Chaos for months or years.

Once we find that Transforming idea, we move on to Practice and Integration, and then finally, we reach a New Status Quo, where we are at a new level of capability.

For those of you who are introducing agile to your organizations, or are introducing some other organizational change—this is why organizational change is so hard and so expensive. Every single person goes through the change model at his or her own pace. And, every single person must go through the change model. If something happens during chaos to shove the person back into Old Status Quo, well, you’re back at the beginning. Good luck.

Change happens all the time. Sometimes we don’t notice. Sometimes we adapt without thinking too hard, because we see a transforming idea and it makes so much sense to us that we move directly into practice and integration and the new status quo. And, sometimes, change hits us with a 2×4.  “Hey, you paying attention?” Uh, I am now!

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