Where Are You in Your Changes?

We’re all in the middle of substantial change. People moved from collocated to remote work overnight. Children are home, too. Your family is home for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Our entire world is not what it was even one month ago. You’re in the middle of considerable change.

I use the Satir Change Model to guide my thinking about change.

We start off in Old Status Quo, where we know what to expect. We’re comfortable (not necessarily happy, but comfortable).

At some point, we encounter a Foreign Element. You might encounter a detour on the road while driving. That’s a small Foreign Element. COVID-19 is a huge Foreign Element.

In response to the Foreign Element, we move into Chaos. Chaos is a time of uncertain performance. Sometimes, we’re great. Sometimes, not so great.

At some point (under normal circumstances), we find the Transforming Idea. In the case of a detour while driving, that Transforming Idea might be “Follow the traffic signs.” We are not in normal circumstances. We need to find Transforming Ideas for:

  1. Our daily schedules
  2. The tools we use
  3. How to communicate, collaborate, and deliver with our teams and colleagues
  4. How to stay sane with so much societal craziness.

I’ve been taking one of these at a time. I only have to “worry” about a spouse, so my daily schedule hasn’t changed.

I’ve been working remote for so long that I have the tools I need and I’m comfortable with them.

The communication thing: I’m spending a ton more time on the phone and on Zoom. I need to offer and receive the human connection.

The societal craziness? I got nothing. Sorry. Well, I limit my news-watching, because I yell at the tv. I don’t need to go any more crazy than I already am.

So yes, I’m still in Chaos for some of these changes. Even though I have tons of experience working in distributed and remote ways. I do not yet have all the Transforming Ideas I need.

Once we have Transforming Ideas, we can move into Practice and Integration. When I first learned about Zoom, I had a ton of practice and integration to do so I could be effective with:

  • One-on-one conversations
  • Teaching
  • Facilitating meetings

Even though I knew the tool, I had to change how I worked to be effective in each of these modes.

I’ve moved through a lot of that Practice and Integration into a New Status Quo. (Not for the societal craziness. Just for the first three above.)

We hope our New Status Quo offers us a higher level of performance than the Old Status Quo. I’ve certainly been through a number of changes where my New Status Quo offers me a higher level of performance. And, sometimes not.

More Ways to See the Change Model

At the risk of making this post “too long” for my normal question of the week, let me share other ways I’ve seen people manage—or not manage—their changes:

Many of us need to explore our way through various Transforming Ideas.

We experiment several times (the blue arrows around the Transforming Ideas). We try to figure out what could work, and for how long.

For example, I’m experimenting with a specific workshop right now (the consulting cohort). I’m learning where I need to spend more time and where the participants need to practice more.

And, if we don’t have enough time for Practice and Integration before we have more change, we might Bounce Back to the original Old Status Quo.

I’ve seen Bounce Back occur when leaders attempt to impose change over change over change over change on other people. And, you might feel as if you’re in Bounce Back now. A colleague said to me, “I just want things to go back to the way they were. I don’t think I can do this anymore.”

However, we don’t have a choice for the changes that COVID-19 create for us. I find the need to experiment my way through the various changes. And, that means that sometimes, we need time to manage the people who think we should move faster.

When people already have their Transforming Idea(s), they may wonder why you don’t “get with the program faster.” Or, if you can’t “just” do it already. (Whatever that thing is.)

We can try to push people through change. I’ve never seen that work. I’ve only seen empathy and patience work.

That’s because we each respond to the various changes differently. We can’t drag people or push them through change.

Change is Individual

We each go through the Satir Change model at our own pace. I hope that this post helps you:

  • Think about your changes
  • How you might create your transforming ideas
  • How you can practice and integrate the changes into your life

All in service of achieving a New Status Quo that works for you.

As I write this in March of 2020, we all live in a time of great change. We’re all learning what works—and doesn’t work—for each of us.

Let’s stay in touch. Let’s work together. Let’s extend each other empathy as we change.

Maybe you can use these ideas to assess where you are in your changes.

That’s the question this week: Where are you in your changes? (and thanks for letting me go long in this post)

6 thoughts on “Where Are You in Your Changes?”

  1. I’ve been working from home with the kids home since Tuesday. I have a desk, but not a separate office space so everyone has been extra sensitive about noise in our open floor plan house because I’m on conference calls. The transforming idea came yesterday – use a gaming headset instead of the standard office headset. They have noise canceling microphones to help reduce background noise and the headsets are also designed with noise canceling and enhanced sound. I’m borrowing one of my kids as the experiment and will order my own if it works well.

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