In the States it has become fairly common to find an impromptu memorial where a major traffic accident has occurred. I recently on a hike ran across a memorial to someone’s favorite dog. It has become easy and acceptable to memorialize loss. Kubler-Ross in her book “On Death and Dying” described in her famous book identified five stages of grief which includes denial, arguing  bargaining, depression and acceptance  I would suggest that memorialization reflects acceptance.

Change and loss tend to follow similar paths. Memorializing how we worked in the past may well be a reflection of acceptance of what is being done now. As a change agent you do not need to react to every memorialization as a sign of push back  Reflect carefully what is being really said and try to help your organization through acceptance.

Sherbrooke Dam Wild Water

A few drips of water are fairly non-threatening. Rarely can a drip or two wash people or cars away or change the flow of a river. Constricting the flow of water harnesses a great deal of potential energy that when released can be used to generate power if it is run through a turbine or if released randomly the impact might be difficult to control.

Develop a backlog of potential changes and keep the list prioritized so that the effort you have to affect change can be channeled for greatest value. A backlog of process improvements is very much like the dam that collects the drips of water until it can drive the turbine of change. Like the dam if it is always collecting and never being relieved it burst and change will happen in a much less controlled manner.

Moral High Ground?



Own The Moral High Ground

A few months ago I was walking the streets of Washington DC and I came across five DC police motorcycles parked outside of a bar. While I believe the police were working a crowd down the street I heard a number of people wondering if they were inside drinking. Perceptions count.

If you are documenting and selling (ok persuading) processes you need to make sure you are using the same basic processes.  Way too often I find that change agents and process teams seem to believe that process is for “those guys” but not for them. They seem to be amazed at the level of animosity that their perceived arrogance creates. Own the moral high ground! Owning the moral high ground begins by holding yourself (and your team) to the same or higher standard that you hold up for others and being aware of where you park.

Arcane Snow Blowing

Change agents need to have knowledge of many arcane skills when practicing organizational change.  Sales is one of the most arcane.  Sales brings to mind used car salesmen in plaid sports coats. Fortunately the perception does not have to be accurate nor is the skill arcane.

Why are sales skills important?  Ask any professional salesman or woman and they will tell you that an immediate pain is an important motivator to making a sale, maybe the most important motivator. At least 99.9% of the people in the world want pain to go away when they have it which is why an aspirin is an easier sale if someone has a headache.  The art of persuasion, sales and requirements gathering is the ability to peel back the layers until you can expose the root cause so the pain can be solved not just masked. The ability to successfully navigate the “pain” conversation to get to the root cause and not irritate person feeling the pain is a skill not consistently found on IT project teams. Bottom-line: I highly recommend a course in salesmanship for all change agents and requirements analysts, make sure your process improvement program solves current problems and always carry a snow shovel and an aspirin.

Water Color In The Fog

Left to its own devices the camera will report the stark reality of the world it is presented with. Almost all environments have imperfections that, if you look hard enough, will make them look less appealing. The same is true when viewing team members (this is probably true for everyone you interact with). It is very easy to view team members by the standards you have for yourself or an even harsher standard. This can cause you to waste a lot of energy on worrying about the actions of those around you.  In severe cases it is possible to become a drain on the team itself. A different filter may make the behavior around you seem to be at worst innocuous or perhaps even complementary.

I am not suggesting that if you have a an ax murderer in your midst, someone that spends the day playing on-line poker rather than supporting the team or hides the status of a project that you don rose colored glasses and pretend everything is beautiful. Rather, if your default position is a positive outlook you don’t jump to the worst conclusion first. A mechanism to achieve a good starting point for a team (any team) is chartering. As part of chartering the teams should spend time defining a set of values and norms and talk about problems they are having . . . Well maybe not the ax murder thing. Defining norms and having a conversation will help everyone on the team view their fellow team members with all of their pluses and minuses in a less harsh light. Save your energy for the big things, it will enhance your productivity by saving a lot of negative energy.  A little fog can soften even the harshest edges making the world just a bit more enjoyable.

Amsterdam Canal

The canals of Amsterdam are an incredible asset to the city. They provide transportation, scenic beauty and are a tourist attraction. The canal system can trace its roots back to city planning in the 17th century. Consider the audacity of anyone thinking that planning in the 17th century would still be delivering functional assets into the 21st century.

If you want to have an impact on the future you can’t be allergic to strategic planning. Not planning reflects a set of decisions that might have the same impact as strategic planning or reflect someone else’s plans. Remember to dream and plan big and perhaps the plans you made today will stand the test of time (and rain) and still will be impacting the world after 400 years.

Coffee cup


None of this half full or half empty stuff! Is the cup full or empty? Does it really depend on perspective? No, the cup is full of air! Our view of the world; our paradigm will define how we view the environment around us. In any project we will be faced with situations (issues, problems or opportunities); each representing decision points. How we perceive that decision point will dictate the options we recognize that are available.

Your attitude and how you perceive the world is 100% up to you – unless you are stuck worrying about the needs in bottom rung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs (basic needs like breathing, eating and existing) . . . as for me, after my first coffee, the cup is full. Have that first cup and then remember that you choose how you respond to your environment.