For such a small word it conjures up all sorts of reactions and emotions.
“Change is hard” is one common phrase I hear around many change fatigued workplaces.
“Not more change” equally so.
And yet as a word it’s just a little verb referring to altering the form, nature, content, future course of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone. For example you can:
CHANGE your opinion (sounds like a complete switch-a-rooney).
CHANGE the course of history (whoa sounds heavy!)
CHANGE your name (yep I’ve done that several times – no I’m not escaping the law.)
Have you got any small CHANGE please? (even begging has become hard as no one carries cash on them anymore.)
Whatever way you use the word CHANGE sounds hard. As a company culture scientist helping leaders and organisations to conduct experiments to improve their culture I found the word itself was more the barrier than anything else. So I made a change. A switch to SHIFT, in particular to introducing the concept of the 10 degree shift.
Just this shift in language itself has seen greater engagement, openness, even relief that transforming a company’s culture is possible, probable and certain using just small sustainable shifts. Bypass the psychological resistance to the word and you bypass the stuckness, fatigue and hopelessness.
SHIFT sounds simpler, gentler, more doable and palatable. Shifting leaders, employees and their behaviors is absolutely possible through consistently shifting to better communication, compassion, care and accountability.
In the current climate and era of business making radical changes could derail a company culture completely and make it go from innovative and warm to toxic and prickly. Far from making drastic changes, simply deciding on the goal or vision and then making constant, incremental, 10 degree shifts will see far greater long term traction. Like a plane taking off from an airport it is not any drastic moves they make in the sky that get them to their final destination but a series of small, micro shifts that untimately sees the plane land at the desired airport.
Our current approaches to organizational change are defunct. They simply won’t cut it in this global environment with multigenerational workforces. They are too hard and fast, controlling and linear, they will not allow for the flexibility, creativity and responsiveness needed today to help companies respond and course correct as the market ebbs and flows. However gauging the environment, the culture climate and making continual small shifts will help a culture stay fresh, vibrant and juicy.
External change is pervasive, all-consuming and accelerating but it can be handled more proactively and positively when a company culture is vibrant and healthy. It’s time to SHIFT our language and our focus. To all become scientists and make small, low risk experiments each and every day towards achieving excellence and improvement in our workplace relationships, learning and company cultures.
Will you make the SHIFT?