October 11, 2009

The Human Side of Change Starts by Asking WHY

Do you ever ask yourself, “What am I doing?” It can be a hard question to answer. It’s not hard to answer from a cursory casual point of view. You might say, “I’m making a phone call, writing a letter, developing a project” or a thousand other factual answers. But WHY are you doing what you’re doing? That’s the deeper question you may struggle to answer. The human side of change often begins by asking “WHY”.

Change was a big topic of discussion and focus in the training and consulting world during the 90’s. Everybody was concerned about change and how rapidly it was taking place. Guess what? Things are changing faster now than ever before and for many people in a not-so-positive direction. Downsizings, foreclosures, loss of life savings, loss of self esteem and much more are eating like a vicious cancer into the American psyche. Can you identify with that statement?

Positive change, for an individual or a company usually starts with dissatisfaction with the status quo. When the norm becomes so distasteful, disgusting or points to our obvious destruction we think seriously about change. Personal change of any magnitude typically only comes with great desperation or inspiration.

Faced with high blood pressure, chronic coughing and wheezing or shortness of breath you may be ready to quit smoking. Experiencing low back pain, high cholesterol and a potential heart attack could force your attention towards a serious diet and exercise program. Likewise, a large downsizing, chapter 11 bankruptcies or company closure may cause you to scramble toward reorganization. But change of this magnitude is difficult.

On the other hand, how appealing is the alternative to the needed change?

Asking the question ‘WHY’ on a daily basis may help you avoid these types of drastic and monumental changes. Change forced on you for your survival is difficult. Change that you make and design on a daily basis is always easier and more quickly achieved.

Changes that are smaller and more incremental may seem simple and more efficient but usually don’t bring about the kind of clear and impressive result for most people to want to continue in the change process. Ask yourself ‘WHY’ am I doing this, saying that, or believing in this way and honestly consider the answer. If the answer is inappropriate, consider the alternatives and make the needed change.

Individuals as well as companies who have the habit of asking ‘WHY’ promote change on an ongoing basis. They don’t just do, say or believe certain things because that’s the “only way” of doing, saying or believing. And they don’t automatically change just for the sake of changing.

They ask ‘WHY’ and then examine the answers, thoroughly, thoughtfully and consistently. When change is warranted, they act. If not, they know why.

Have you asked yourself, “What am I doing?” WHY NOT?!

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