Daryl Conner

February 2, 2010

The Best Way to Help a Sponsor Deal With Change

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“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi

If we are to be effective at helping clients understand and manage complex change, we must not only have the ability to educate and facilitate—we must also model the behavior we need to see in those we serve.

Who we are particularly affects our relationships with senior sponsors. Many practitioners haven’t come to terms with that fact. I’ve heard internal agents say, “I like being assigned to high-level leaders, but I can’t be a role model for people that high up in our organization. Anyone at that level won’t relate to me in that way anyway, but I don’t really see myself as someone a senior officer should imitate.”

This kind of self-image limits the practitioner to tactical influence at best. We have to see ourselves as not only change specialists, but also exemplars for the sponsors we serve. Yes, it’s challenging, but without this aspect to the relationship, our guidance will seem more theoretical than practical (it may sound good but doesn’t translate to real life). Even worse, we can appear to the sponsor as providing questionable, if not bogus, guidance.

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February 9, 2010

How Resilient Are You?

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As a change practitioner, you’ve probably seen the impact of major change on your team’s or department’s productivity. Humans have a limited capacity to absorb the disruption that change creates. When an individual faces more demand for change than he or she can absorb, the result is an increase in dysfunctional behavior.

To adapt successfully, individuals must increase their speed of change. I’m not talking about the velocity at which things around them are changing, but rather how fast they can recover from their own disrupted expectations. When people are able to function at their optimum speed of change, they can absorb significant disruption with minimal dysfunction. The key to increasing a person’s speed of change is resilience.

Resilient people are no less vulnerable than others to the stresses of change. They can’t prevent disruptions, but the results of a change are often more fruitful and less damaging for them. Resilient people bounce back quickly; they do not become victims of change.

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February 16, 2010

Five Aspects of Resilience

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When people adapt to change, they need to apply their mental, physical, and emotional energy to adjust to new circumstances. Based on our own observations and review of research, we’ve identified a set of five “change muscles” that help people use their energy more effectively during change. Let’s take a closer look:
Positive

Resilient people are positive. They can see possibilities in even the most discouraging of situations, and opportunities amidst potential dangers. They also see themselves as having the capability to deal with challenging situations. As a result, they are better able to engage their energy in change rather than retreating, worrying, or engaging in defensive, unproductive activities.
Focused

Resilient people are focused. They know what’s important to them, and have a clear sense of priorities. In the midst of ambiguity, there are often many conflicting demands for attention. Resilient people recognize that they can’t do everything. They are able to say “no” to the less important things so they can focus their energy on the few most critical issues.

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February 23, 2010

Resilience in Teams and Organizations

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In my last post, I wrote about the five characteristics of resilience: positive, focused, flexible, organized, and proactive as they apply to individuals going through change.

Now I’d like to expand the notion of resilience to a larger context. Think about teams going through change. Research shows that under certain circumstances, teams can be more effective than a collection of individuals. How this happens is another topic, synergy, which I will focus on at a later date. For now, I’d like to share our observation that teams can create exceptionally strong and effective responses to change if they can draw on the varied resilience strengths of members. A team in which the least positive person sets the emotional tone for the group,

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October 26, 2010

Future Shock: The Scourge of Organizational Change

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Many initiatives fail to achieve their intended purpose because they require more change than people can accommodate. Being able to objectively measure both the demands of change and the capacity people have to absorb the implications is a vital skill for profession change facilitators. This is the first of four posts about managing capacity and demand when multiple, overlapping initiatives are being implemented.

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November 2, 2010

How Do People Learn to Adapt to Change?

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To realize the intended benefits of a major change, the people affected must have the capacity to adapt, which means they must have sufficient mental, emotional, and physical energy to incorporate new mindsets and behaviors. If change demand exceeds available adaptation capacity, overload occurs, which causes dysfunctional mindsets and behaviors–in other words, future shock.

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November 9, 2010

How to Manage Capacity

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You might assume that future shock (which happens when the demands of change exceed a person’s or group’s capacity to properly deal with the implications) is something to avoid at all cost. However, that’s not what I’ve seen from leaders who consistently achieve their change objectives.

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