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Going Places

August 11, 2009

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.” –African proverb

All the attention paid to change management in organizations suggests people have great difficulty accepting and implementing change.  It’s worth asking whether this is true, or rather if it’s simply a sign that the people leading change don’t know how to go about bringing people along?

In my experience, people find change challenging not so much because it reflects a departure from the convenient or comfortable, which is often true enough, but more so because they haven’t been asked to come along and have no idea where you want them to go much less why.  Getting people to go along often requires little more than the invitation to do so, but you better be prepared to answer the where and why questions.

All of us have had the experience of going someplace new for the first time.  A good many of us had the added experience of getting lost along the way.  In some cases, the unplanned side-trip just added to the experience, sometimes making us more grateful we arrived safely and other times giving us something more valuable than we bargained for in the first place.

Most journeys worth taking involve an element of risk.  Certainly, these risks include getting lost or sidetracked, getting ambushed, or worse.  But risk-taking can sometimes pay-off by producing unexpected dividends.  Most of the time, these benefits arise from the contributions of our traveling companions and people we meet along the way who add something special to our experience.

The most memorable trips give us the opportunity not only to see or do something exciting, but also to share that experience with others.  The same can be said for almost any change we make.  The message here with respect to facilitating positive change is clear and simple: If you can’t get trusted companions to come along with you, you better be prepared to make new friends along the way.

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