How Change Works

Change happens
The five fundamentals
What is your goal?
Core concepts
Skill resources
What is, what might be
Heading for the open space
Habits of mind
Spinning scenarios
Coming out
Breaking the trance
Finding a new path
Why it matters
Finding the Essential Difference
Four quadrants

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  • Change Happens (13k) is the first of a series about the nature of change itself:
  • Surviving and thriving in a turbulent environment calls for a particular skill set, the skills of the surfer and the martial artist, the skills of jazz rather than chamber music, soccer rather than baseball.

  • The Five Fundamentals of Change (16k) lays out the five factors that help an individual, an organization, or a community, survive and thrive in the face of massive, constant change:
  • People and organizations that thrive on change share some fundamental attributes. And change is fractal: its basic nature looks the same at different scales. So the attributes that make an organization powerfully adaptive also make a relationship flexible and fruitful, a community livable, and an individual creative, adaptive, and secure in the midst of turbulence.

  • What Is Your Goal? (12k) - in dealing with change, it makes a big difference what you are after:
  • The key thing to remember when dancing with a gorilla is this: you don't stop when you get tired. You stop when the gorilla gets tired.

  • The Core Concepts of Change (18k):
  • There is no "60-Second Change Manager" checklist, no three simple thoughts that can make us masters of turbulence, yet there are certain fundamental ideas that can help us think about our situations.

  • The Skills of the Change Master (26k):
  • From anamnesis to zanshin, 18 specific "deep skills" of dealing with change.

  • Where we can learn about change (7k) - an array of skill-building resources:
  • If you find a book titled Sixty-Second Change Master, or The Idiot's Guide to Change, pull yourself up gently by your tie and give yourself a reality check: does this seem like something with three easy steps, or six, or 10?

  • Touching what is, touching what might be (13k) - the paradox of staying grounded in the way things are, while exploring the way they could be:
  • To make use of the power living inside any new thing that comes our way, we first have to touch it -- not tentatively but profoundly -- at the same time that we maintain a firm connection with that which is deepest and most fundamental within ourselves.

  • The paradoxes of change (12k) - living in paradox turns out to be essential to dealing with change:
  • Paradox is the place of insight. Accepting paradox, not as a momentary distraction but as a place to live, lies at the heart of dealing successfully with change.

  • Heading for the open space (11k) - There is a market-oriented answer to the question: "How do I know the direction in which I should change?"
  • It's possible that "Follow The Other Guy" is not the golden road to transformation. In fact, the three questions that are most helpful in deciding your path, as a person or an organization, lie almost completely in the other direction.

  • Habits of mind for turbulent times (13k) - What ways of thinking work best in times of rapid change?
  • Are these tough times? Let's put it this way: Many people I know in the late 1990s sleep like babies -- they wake up every two hours and cry.

  • Spinning the future (10k) - A quick tour of scenario-spinning
  • Don't attempt to tell the future. Instead, tell stories about it. Spin scenarios.

  • Coming out (13k) - Integrity, self-knowledge, and the strategic conversation
  • We all have our own closet. It's full of the things that we know but won't admit, not even to ourselves -- and the thousand ways that we don't know ourselves. Self-knowledge is the beginning of integrity, of coming out of the closet, and is a prerequisite for dealing well with change.

  • Breaking the trance (15k) - Hypnotic identity, and the Deep Trance Phenomena of organizations
  • The father of modern hypnotherapy, Milton Erickson, insisted that trance was a quite common state, one that we drop into many times a day without any help at all -- a "petting the kitty" trance, a "yelling at the kids" trance, a "surgeon" trance, a "lovemaking" trance, a "getting dressed down by my superiors" trance.

  • Finding a new path (14k) - Each life path has its own training
  • After some time (the Seeker had long lost track, but I will tell you that it was, to be precise, one year, one day, four hours and seven minutes since they had started), they reached the summit of the Mountain of Wisdom. It was broad and flat and, to the Seeker's enormous surprise, crowded.

  • Why it matters (13k) - Driving out the fear of change -- and the four rules of life
  • The fear of change -- the fear of the unknown, of things that, deep down, under the professional veneer, I wonder whether I can handle -- is quite real. It is immediate and nearly constant.

  • Finding the Essential Difference (13k) - Differentiating between technical change and essential change.
  • This idea -- what is essential, and what is peripheral -- is basic to all intelligent management of change. At the core of all our resistance to change is the fear that we will lose something of ourselves, something unrecoverable.

  • The Four Quadrants of Change (6k)
  • What's the best response to change? That depends on your relationship to the change -- to a great extent, on the power balance. How much power does this change have to affect you or your organization or family? How much power do you have to control it or shift its direction?

  • Books: A brief, annotated list of our favorite written resources, ancient and modern.(12k)

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