The HeadScratcher Post Archive
February 2009
Two ideas about Change
        February 2009  The Headscratcher Post © Headscratchers LLC   Edition 46
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Two ideas about Change

Change is everywhere these days, our government, our economy, our companies, our employment, our families … our world.

A Critical Thinking Perspective on managing change.  There are many training courses on managing change.  You may have heard of the 5 steps people go through when something changes, i.e. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

Here are two ideas from the perspective of Critical Thinking that may give you some additional means as to how to both cope with and manage change.

1.  Humans are pattern machines.  Think about this.  Humans like repeatable steps, and you get very good at them after a short time.   I’m sure you can remember a time when you had to do something new and had to repeat it many times (sending holiday cards, using a new piece of software, even eating on one side of your mouth due to dental work).  You start out awkward, and inefficient, but after awhile, you establish a pattern of work and things become more “automatic”.  You create a patterned process.   Patterns allow you to predict the next step.  You know what to do next, automatically.  This requires almost no thinking, just doing.  The more practice you have, the better you get.  This applies to sports, playing a musical instrument, even getting used to a new neighborhood.    Then Change comes along … it breaks the pattern.  You have to think, you may not be able to predict what’s next, and you have to learn a new pattern all over again.  Finding new patterns takes time and work …certainly not what most people have an abundance of or wish to do.

2.  Conclusions are almost always based on a combination of facts, experience, beliefs, observations and assumptions, i.e. Inductive Reasoning.  You reach hundreds of conclusions each day, ranging from what to wear in the morning to what to say in a meeting.    As you gain more knowledge of a situation or gain experience in a job, you have more to tap into to form your conclusions.   Then Change comes along … now you are in a situation where you may have less knowledge or experience.  As a result, your conclusions are more difficult to make.  You have to think harder, and it takes more time because you have to obtain the knowledge and experience you don’t have.

Change  it may promise a better future, but when change occurs it disturbs existing patterns, it makes reaching conclusions more difficult and time consuming, and it forces you to think harder.  Your brain says: Change = Uncertainty (fewer or no patterns) + Mistakes (harder to reach good conclusions) + Time consuming (Things take longer) + Hard Work (Have to think more!).  It’s certainly no wonder why Change can be difficult and undesirable.

The Takeaway:  Tough economics and unemployment will force many changes in companies, as well as for families.   Recognize that change means finding new patterns, and gaining knowledge and experience so that you can form good conclusions.  This takes time and thinking.  Everyone would like their employees to “get on with it” quickly, but be patient with yourself and others because you can’t afford the huge mistakes that will result from lack of pattern recognition and bad conclusions.

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