Change or die? There's an alternative: change by choice

Change management
olegkalina/iStock
Philip Cox-Hynd
Harley Young
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There is a particular word that has become very popular in recent times within business-change speak, that was thrown around a lot on the 1980s American pop psychology scene back in the day: it’s ‘transformation’.

At a seminar I attended back in the ‘80s, the facilitator held up an apple and said, “If I were to transform this apple using the literal meaning of 'transform' I would be holding an orange.”

It soon became clear that the word ‘transformation’ circulated frequently, but was often applied incorrectly.

Transformation, in the purest sense of the word, means for something to change in essence entirely. In business terms, however much we may want to achieve it, transformation is often an unrealistic goal. So if we can’t transform, why not just change instead?

The central barrier to making changes is that while we as humans are highly adaptable in nature (just look at the spectrum of different living conditions we endure all over the world), we are resistant to change, especially if it is a change that we did not elect for ourselves.

Bringing around real noticeable change within a company necessitates two ‘truths’ being acknowledged.

Firstly, change can be unsettling or disagreeable at times. Secondly, unless everybody truly realises the need for change, their resistance will deem the efforts dead in the water.

I have spent the past 30 years developing methodologies to make change easier to handle for companies and individuals, which centre on mindful choice.

What does this mean? If you stop and think about every little facet of life, it is likely you have certain expectations, from the banal like what the weather will be like tomorrow, to the integral like where your relationships will end up in years to come.

I could change what I am getting in life to better fulfil my own expectations, but when this is practically impossible the practice of mindfulness – calm observation of what’s so – can open my mind to possibilities I had never recognised before.

Over the course of my career, I have used the psychology of change to develop practical and effective methodologies that businesses can implement which deliver good, measurable and sustainable results.

My work as Lead Change consultant on the Viagra project for Pfizer Pharmaceutical helped to bring the drug to market nine months ahead of schedule, while the change project I conducted for Ella’s Kitchen, the organic baby and toddler food company, brought the organisation to such a stable and innovative position that it could be successfully sold on in 2013.

‘Change or die’ is undoubtedly an ominous choice of words, but relatable despite our natural aversion to change. I much prefer to make it my mission, whether in my personal life or in my corporate life, to turn ‘change or die’ into ‘change by choice’.

Choice is always preferable, and there is always a choice.

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