4. Tackling Change and Complexity

Tackling Change & Complexity

How to Shape Your World View

As most of us realize, meaningful problem solving — especially involving behavior change — is difficult at best. It can be so frustrating that many of us give up along the way or before we even start.  Intellectually we may think we understand what’s required. As a society, though, in practice, not nearly enough of us have developed the skills, the emotional “muscles”, or the habits and practices of change and flexibility needed. Could that be because there isn’t a critical number of people who see the see enough need for it?

While an avalanche of so-called “know how” or “secrets” for launching, implementing, and sustaining continuous improvement can be found in books and articles; detailed real-life examples of difficult change, whose particulars we might study, are far less easy to find. Generalities seem to abound when details are scarce.  In states of overwhelm, fear or frustration, many of us turn to generalization or rationalization (then avoidance) when dealing with difficult change. It’s usually easier than facing specific committed action. That’s why achieving desired behavior change — let alone transformation —still tends to be an elusive pursuit for both organizations and individuals.

One simple way to approach difficult change is to recognize that relying on words alone won’t help us with the heavy lifting (like straight-on persuasion or self-talk). In other words, talk is cheap and doesn’t make desired change happen. What can help a lot, however, is to establish three conditions for change: 1) buy-in: the connection and alignment of others, 2) demonstrated empowerment, and 3) abundant clarity. Without these three conditions, little meaningful progress will be made or maintained. 

These three conditions suggest that a successful approach will engage people emotionally and physically as well as intellectually. Accordingly, an early phase of any change management is to help subjects honestly identify any prevailing internal and external conditions affecting their process, like their readiness for change. That’s always the more solid ground to work from versus a theoretical or imagined point of view. DVL naturally creates these three conditions for change and complex problem solving.

In pursuing improvement – as these blogposts will show – there’s a strong set of reasons for getting beyond our use of words alone. People think, process and code (recall and imagine) life and information far more through visual images than through words. In fact, according to researchers, the use of words alone amounts to perhaps only 15% of our total thinking process. Therefore, what we attempt do with words alone probably accounts for the reason we often operate in such a diminished and limited way! Maybe we don’t know any better and have never been shown the difference. When examining productivity of meetings for example, honest opinions reveal how consistently we underperform left up to our habits and traditions. There is little in the workplace that so frustrates and depresses employees than meetings which waste people’s time and accomplish almost so little.