A Deeper Look At Change

This is coming to you, dear readers, after many months of silence from me…. allow me to explain. In mid-January, 2013 I was called to California and spent three weeks in vigil with my 87-year-old mother, until she passed peacefully on Feb 3rd.

When I arrived back in Ontario, it was clear my husband Graydon was not well. Seven months later, almost to the day, he died a difficult death from lung cancer. To say that 2013 was a brutal year for me is a gross understatement. I’m just only now catching my breath and moving into a space where I can reflect and begin to make sense of it all.

Yogi Berra said it best, ‘In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.’ I’m here to say a resounding, ‘AMEN Yogi!’

Now, I love theory: I like quantifying and simplifying concepts that explain how change happens. Over my career, I’ve created several change models myself. Being able to ‘see’ what a particular aspect of human behaviour looks like, in theoretical terms, is helpful when you’re heading into unknown territory; mental maps serve as valuable touch points for the journey. But in practice, when the worst you can imagine is happening, and the news gets tougher every day—when you’re exhausted and the end result is not going to be what you wanted or thought would happen—and there is precious little you can do…models and theories can only take you so far.

In the aftermath of this incredibly difficult and personal change journey I have some fresh insights about the landscape. Today, I want to set aside theory and speak from my heart, and tell you some of the things I’ve learned this past year in hopes that you find them helpful.

Slowing the Turnover Carousel

Just a generation ago most people spent their entire careers at the same company. Today employees are likely to work for 5 different companies… before they’re 40.

The debate about why this is happening is rich, but for today, lets look at the “so what?”

This month we’ve been talking about legacies, your legacy, and challenging you with the question, “What do you want to be remembered for when you leave the workplace?” As difficult and disruptive as the turnover carousel is for companies, it also presents you with a perfect opportunity to build your legacy. You may be one of the only people at your company, or in your department, who has been around since the beginning and who fully understands the rationale behind key decisions and how core values really get played out.

Here are a couple of ways you can blend your desire to leave a legacy with your company’s need to “slow the turnover carousel.”

Blacksmiths Do It; Carpenters Do It…Should You Be Too?

Throughout much of human history, formal education has been a difficult thing to come by for most people. It wasn’t until the 19th century, when public school systems and universities began to pop up, that formal degrees and diplomas signifying that a person has the skills and abilities to work in a particular profession became available.

Yet, there has always been a need to educate and pass on knowledge. Blacksmiths, carpenters and farmers have historically taken on apprentices, or taught their own children their craft so that knowledge and skills would continue on, and each community would ensure that there was at least one person who knew how to perform crucial functions.