As I write this it's Veterans Day in both Canada and the US and the airways are full of stories of determination, sacrifice and heroism. I think it's fair to say that, regardless of our national or political affiliation or beliefs, in our hearts, we all applaud the kind of courage it takes to be willing to risk it all to gain an important victory.
On CNN tonight, soldiers represented the major historical US military involvements from World War II, the Korean conflict, the Vietnam War, Iraq and the current efforts in Afghanistan. When Lou Dobbs asked the Navajo 'Code Talker' from WWII to articulate what he thought Obama should do now he hesitated, swallowed hard and then softly spoke of the need to work towards peace. As each Veteran, in turn, gave their perspective on the current military actions I couldn't help but think how valuable their perspectives are. Each one spoke of the need for sober second thoughts and wisdom filled choices.
No armchair quarterbacks here; these are men and women who have lived it. They've been in the thick of battle and have stories to tell and wisdom to share. They've seen the enemy and faced em down. There is no real substitute for on the ground experience - in war and in leading change.
Hindsight really is 20/20.
When I get called into a company to help with a new change initiative I'm aware that there is often an underlying cynicism about how valuable the stories from the past will be in moving forward. I witness the slight rolling of the eyes as long term employees are described as naturally resistant to change and not to be counted on as Change Champions. Really?
What if we took another look? What if we honored long time employees as our 'Change Veterans'? What would happen if we asked them to share their perspectives on past change efforts, their knowledge of the enemy (change failure) and their strategies for coping with fear, stress and the uncertain future that most organizations are facing. They might just have something to share with us; they might hold a viewpoint that could inform current choices and temper risky plans.
The best way to move beyond superficial indicators of a person's ability to make change, and get to the core of their true capacity, is to assess their change style. Hundreds of organizations have done this by using my Change Style Index - an individual, self-assessment tool that reveals both transitional strengths and limitations. I designed the Change Style Index to be used in conjunction with a team or organization's change planning activities. If you'd like to find out what kind of changer you, and your team, really are - let's talk!