In our previous post we looked at tools for the three phases of change (What to Change, What to Change to and How to Make the Change Happen). This post is in response to several comments that asked about the ‘why’ of change.
Dr. W. Edwards Deming used to say: “The only thing that does not require maintenance is obsolescence”.
This is a fundamental truth: if we do not evolve, we regress. What makes everything more
complicated is the pace at which we must evolve to survive and the anthropological direction of this evolution.
Nobody would recommend change for the sake of it. However, our circumstances may become such that either we change or we jeopardize our situation. At Intelligent Management, our perspective is one of continuous improvement. The Decalogue methodology is fueled by the Deming cycle of Plan, Do, Study, Act, and this is an ongoing process in any organization that embraces the continuous improvement paradigm.
Why Change? Because our reality hurts and we need to something about it
Nobody wants to change when everything is hunky dory. However, when our reality is biting us, it’s a signal that we need to do something. The cycle of tools we use with the Decalogue approach to govern the process of change starts by listing the things that are hurting. In the Theory of Constraints these ‘symptoms’ are called Undesirable Effects (UDEs). We may have no desire to change, but the UDEs are a prompt that make us aware of a need to change. The Undesirable Effects we experience are the result of the insufficient or inadequate interactions we have with our personal and/or physical environment.
Thinking Cause and Effect
In our lives we are immersed in a network of relations that naturally evolve, whether we like it or not.This evolution will inevitably create some Undesirable Effects for us. Though some people may try, it is ineffective to adopt a ‘whack-a-mole’ attitude to cope with these effects one at a time. The reason for this is that each Undesirable Effect is interconnected as a symptom of an underlying root cause. Whether we can do something about the root cause or not, we need to change because that root cause may in time severely limit our ability to achieve goals that are critical for us. That root cause is what is blocking us from achieving more towards our goal. It becomes our constraint, and as Dr. Goldratt used to say, you can ignore the constraint, but it won’t ignore you. We need to learn to understand cause and effect, i.e. to recognize the effects we experience, and link them to their cause.
The need for systemic intelligence to cope with change
Goldratt created the Thinking Process Tools to fortify in people the ability to reason cause-and-effect. This is a daunting task because our mind simply does not work that way. In our
daily lives, most of the time we “re-act” instead of acting and we very rarely understand the
full spectrum of the consequences of our “re-actions”. Simply put, human cognition is heavily constrained in understanding the network of interdependencies that our actions trigger.
In our next post we will look at the idea of cognitive constraints and how they can trip us up in understanding why and when we need to change.