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The Challenge Of Change

June 23, 2009

Apparently Tolstoy once observed “Everybody wants to change the world, but not everybody wants to change oneself.”

Most of us recognize that we are going through a period of rapid and significant change and there are parts of it we like, and parts we don’t like. In that sense, Tolstoy’s observation is incomplete, because it omits the point that change will occur, regardless of whether or not we want it.  So a key question for each of us is to ask how open we are to change and how we react when it is staring us in the face.

Last week I interviewed Jonathan Farrington, who is an expert in selling. He made the observation that around 80% of people prefer a relatively predictable role – they are not going to step far out of the box. Another 15% are more enquiring and can make the move into a consultative role, performing tasks that demand solutions or leading change initiatives. The remaining 5% are those who really welcome innovation and are anxious to find and define value sources. These are the potential change agents.

IACCM is at the forefront of change. The Association sees one of its core goals to be helping its members prepare and equip for the future. In the beginning, we used to get disheartened – we produced so many ideas, so much research,  such a wealth of practical tools to lead change, yet it seemed no one ever picked them up and acted upon them. Everyone said they wanted change – but to Tolstoy’s point, change that did not really involve change for them.

Steadily we realized several things. First, change agents were in fact picking up our ideas but they often did not tell us. Second, we could not expect all our members to jump forward and we had to shift our message. Today, we acknowledge that change does not excite and motivate everyone. But we make the point that it is much better to have some control over your destiny than to leave it to fate. So if you want to lead, that is great and we will help you. But if you don’t want to lead, that is fine too – so long as you convey the message and materials to someone who will show that appetite. 

At the very least, it is worth protecting yourself against unacceptable change.

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