Reflections on Change

“Change or die” — we are told. “The only thing that’s certain is change itself.” “Learn to accept change,” “embrace change” etc. How much can we influence our ability to cope with change? How much can we change? 

I remember one puzzling moment in Werner Herzog’s wonderful movie Encounters at the End of the World… One of the characters, a mid-aged lad, hasn’t got particularly much to say when interviewed by the narrator. We learn, however, that he is always prepared to hit the road. Working here and there, he has his things (stuck in a backpack) ready for an instant takeoff. Is this the ideal of a change-adapted person? While discussing the movie, my father-in-law said, that it was exactly the opposite. “Running away” (as in the case of Herzog’s character) was not a good sign of one’s ability to adapt. But then… how’s change vs. adaptation?

When working on personal change or inducing organizational change, do we hope to make people adapt to the new situation? Or would we rather want them to “become the change,” to change themselves, and not just simply adapt?

With every new year on my back I’m less prone to believe in induced change, esp. organizational initiatives aiming to shift an entity from point A to point B (“culture eats strategy for breakfast,” after all). I believe, however, in an individual’s repeated activities. I believe in routine. Routine makes a craftsman out of a layman and an Olympian out of an average sportsman.

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  • Pawel Brodzinski March 24, 2009, 4:09 pm

    I see the same thing – the more experience we are the less likely we’re trying to change the world. On the other hand without all these freshmen who don’t know that something is impossible and just do it we’d be stuck in our good old way of doing things.It’s quite a common situation when some newbie initiates the change but everyone start to believe it’ll be a success when some experienced folks jump in bandwagon. When they’re finally convinced odds are it’s a good idea.

  • Lech March 29, 2009, 4:08 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Pawel!True, it does seem to be an intricate part of our nature, doesn’t it? Let us hope there will be enough young optymists and seasoned leaders with integrity / broad perspective to challenge them.Have a great Sunday!