Working through Change and Loss, to Growth

Change is in abundance! Pick up any newspaper or magazine today and there is a good chance that you will find a news article about change.  It may focus on cosmic changes, changes in technology, changes in medicine, or changes in family life, plus a myriad of other changes.

Significant change affects other changes.  How you use your cell phone affects relationships.  How your health evolves affects the quality of your life and that of your family. A change in one part of the world affects the stock market and thus your investments.  Very few changes have isolated impact.  Most change affects whole systems and often the transitions bring about loss.

Managing change well will not alleviate loss, but will lessen some of the pain of loss.  Organizational change needs to be managed well in three areas:

  1. Input from those affected by the change
  2. Good communication throughout the change process
  3. Support and re-training, if needed, to be sure the change is implemented well

Here are ten steps that can be taken to address the areas named above:

  1. Establish a representative planning committee made up of those who may have been elected to leadership, as well as those who represent the community (religious, corporate or civic community).  Call forth a subcommittee to be in charge of on-going communication.  Communicate, both internally and externally, as appropriate.
  2. Create a case statement for the need for change. Establish the boundaries and criteria for decision making related to the change.
  3. Invite those who will be affected to brainstorm some solutions in the areas where change is needed. Study the ideas that have been generated by the brainstorming to discern pros and cons of each one.  Communicate these to all involved.
  4. Develop different scenarios flowing from the analysis in number three above, which address the issues involved in the change and widely communicate these.  Seek input on the scenarios.
  5. Based on input, create a proposal which reflects the wisdom of the community and is within the boundaries or criteria established above.
  6. Seek input on the proposal.  Ask those responding to state their rationale for the input they are providing.
  7. Further refine the proposal based on input, moving toward using consensus as the ideal way to come to a decision about the changes needed.
  8. Make a decision in light of the common good and the available resources with an eye toward the positive impact of the decision long term.
  9. Acknowledge the loss and the need for letting go that needs to happen in the change process.  Ritualize this, allow for a time of grieving. Focus on a hope-filled future.
  10. Provide support and training as needed so all can be successful in implementing the decision.

The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time.  We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.  We are the change that we seek. 
Barack Obama

People don’t resist change.  They resist being changed.
Peter Senge