3 Helping People Engage Positively with Imposed Change

Recently I received a call from a human resources director who wanted to offer some support to a leadership team charged with bringing about some change. They thought they wanted a day’s training on “doing” change. As I spoke to them all beforehand it became clear that what most of them wanted and needed was something much more experiential that allowed them to make sense of and engage with their specific change. Everyone agreed that the changes they had been charged to make were “logically” a good idea, and they were pretty convinced that everyone else would agree that “you couldn’t argue with the logic.” Yet they also knew in more or less well articulated ways that this might not be enough to make the changes happen. And somehow, although they could all recite to me, in some detail, the “plan” of the changes needed, they couldn’t get started on making any changes. The day ended up being a slightly odd hybrid of “teaching” as commissioned and experiential sense-making as required.

There were two particular points of interest about this day relevant to this chapter. Late in the afternoon I had created a space to “dream” about how the organization could be once these proposed changes were operative. The two groups tackled this very differently. One discussion was all about inspired service for customers and the group involved were getting excited and passionate about the good they could do in the world and what ...

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