Archive for ‘Changes’

March 12, 2012

Dust settling and other armchair sports

In the past year I have seen a great deal of change – none as great as becoming a father. I am most always tired, but happy.

The blog will be back up and running any day now. I have a lot to share.

Anyone who is out there – thanks for your patience (although I suspect y’all are related to me and professional links died a long time ago).

February 12, 2010

Layoffs are, as it turns out, not the answer.

There’s a great Newsweek article out now about the trend in downsizing, and how the layoffs are not saving the ship as once imagined.

Sometimes people do need to be let go, and I think that if there’s a scientific and exhaustive measurement process to ascertain the job fit for the employees, a massive ‘rightsizing’ might be appropriate. If new skills are needed and the workforce isn’t keeping up (i.e. technology) or if the hiring process has been examined and found inadequate, there may be a real value in showing those who are fit for the jobs that quality counts.  This is something the article does not go into.

However, as the article very well explains,  layoffs don’t help the bottom line as much as assumed. I agree with the author’s argument, but wish there had been as good an explanation about alternatives to layoffs when money is tight.

Organizations still need to save money, especially when there are problems meeting payroll, and the article didn’t really address ways that leaders can really make the case for rejecting the layoff solution. If one chooses to refrain from letting people go, there need to be alternatives suggested.

I’m a big fan of layoff alternatives, not only because I was laid off after 9/11 as a result of the recession and our shrinking client base.  It was the third round of layoffs after the recession had started, and being in that situation is something I hope to never experience again. I think it informs my career choice more than most other experiences I’ve had.

In my case, I know that many of my coworkers may have agreed to take a pay cut and work fewer hours if it meant that we could keep working.  I don’t know anyone who has been furloughed in California, and I’m sure such a plan has it’s psychological downsides as well. But it sure beats the unemployment lines.  I’m going to look up some other alternatives and share what I find here.

February 6, 2010

Insert job title here

A discussion on an organizational change management group I’m a member of on LinkedIn posited the question: “What is the best term to replace ‘change management’?”

I find this humorous because I had recently been advised by a very wise person to drop all of the jargon from my elevator pitch.  He quoted some wise words from “The Dilbert Principle” to drive the point home, and it surely worked.  Nothing like Scott Adams-sounding phrases coming from my lips, and being called on it, to wake me up in the morning. Note: taken.

In another post I posited that we might not be best serving people to “manage” change, as change may be something to embrace rather than control. If that is the case, when people ask me what my concentration was in grad school, I would have to say “change embracement consultation.” Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but I like the idea of puttling a positive spin on it. It feels like saying “yes” instead of “no.”

Some ideas: change incorporation, change cultivation, mmm.  I could run through the thesaurus but I don’t think I’m going to strike gold just yet.

Also, I’m not sold completely on abandoning the “management” of change, but I think it might work to qualify that phrase. Perhaps, as the “management of very human reactions to change which may or may not include an acclimatization to the inevitable nature of all things.” Or maybe “change happens.” Which I think is why “change management” caught on. It’s simple, but can mean anything depending on who’s saying it. Which is also why I support the creation of something better. Less jargony.

Not sure how this is going to go. Should be interesting, though.

February 1, 2010

Loss and Change

I had planned to write posts on this blog every day, but my wife’s grandmother passed away and we’ve been out of town.  She was a remarkable woman, and after being ill for some time most felt it was a miracle that she made it to 92.  Still, even in the most expected passings, we do grieve, and with that, questions arise about how we live and what mortality means to us.

When change happens we also grieve, whether or not that change was predictable.  Some theories say that people fear their own deaths, therefore we find ourselves threatened with our mortality when change or loss occurs within close range.  The biggest change of all is death, so perhaps in smaller changes the same feelings echo but with less volume, and less sharply-felt.

I have to work on accepting abrupt changes no matter how close the concept of accepting my mortality feels to me.  Letting go and embracing the inevitable seems right, and perhaps it’s an intellectualization of  emotional detachment to my own life that makes me think I’m safe.  But time and again, I am jarred by events which seem to threaten my concept of my existence, and I have to put the hamsters back on the wheel and do the hard work of grounding myself anew. These changes are not always so important or externally meaningful to my identity, but something is triggered that makes me feel attacked.  As I’ve grown, and paid attention to this phenomena over the years, the work is quicker and more routine. However, I think to be attached to any concepts or items or people one must also have that threat of loss.

This is where I wonder about the Buddhist concept of detachment and how it could be possible to love or be engaged in my work and be safe from the inevitable hand of change. The two ideas seem rather mutually exclusive.  I would posit that it is how I intentionally deal with change and loss that makes  me stronger each time. Suffering does come from attachment, but also do the pleasant emotions as well. I can get behind the detachment concept but I keep getting stuck on enjoying the ups and downs of life. It all seems like it would be rather neutral otherwise and that would be less fun for me.

I think that organizational life is full with loss and grief and fear of organizational mortality and that there is a lot of work to do on this front. The line that we are to be detached in a professional manner from our work makes it necessary for us to lead double lives and it hinders organizational effectiveness.

Although it is true that professional and personal life need boundary management between the two to some extent, a great deal of stress arises when we are doing work that does not resonate with us personally.  The constant loss of the self at work, regaining the self at home can create an identity crisis. In addition, we start to feel that we are losing precious time in our lives when we are not fulfilled for so many hours each day.

Mortality continues to creep into the conversation.  All change involves loss if we are attached to the present reality, and maybe all losses are mini-deaths. If that is true, it frightens me that there is such a difficulty in our culture to find space to grieve.

January 26, 2010

Turn and face the strain…

I’ve been meditating on how to start this blog for months now, knowing that I need to put these thoughts together but the push to start has been elusive. If there’s nothing else I can contribute to the conversation about change I would like to add my experience of changing and being changed.

Whether it was in a tech company that rode the bubble of the mid-90’s and summarily burst in 2001, the field of education, hash-slinging, or light construction, all of my work experiences have echoed similar insights into human-organizational behavior.  To be truthful, I haven’t seen anyone manage change successfully, if an attempt is made at all.

It may be that managing change is not the correct way to go about dealing with change. Since change is the only constant in our world, perhaps the Buddhists have the right idea in just letting it be “what is” and going with the flow. As our culture is not predisposed to flowing maybe the most one can do is to breed flexibility in people and systems. This does not, however, speak easily to the real task of leadership. However one sees the leaders of their organization, they are human, and within that limitation are the same anxieties that breed in us all.

Sometimes when I think about it, I get a sense of defeatism, as it’s hard to believe that nothing short of a complete cultural makeover will cure these ills. Other times I feel like it has already started and adding my voice to the call would be doing something real, and of value.

So welcome to this part of my world, and let the games begin…