The “High” of Transformational Change

As you may already know, I am an undergraduate business student at Central Penn College. My major is Business Administration, and I am currently concentrating in human resources management (HRM). In line with my concentration, I took a course this past spring entitled “Organizational Change Management.” Organizational Change Management is exactly what it sounds like: “The study of organizational change, and how one manages the human resources involved throughout that organizational change process.” For the most part, organizational change management is a relatively modern study. It pioneers organizational development studies, and it is packed full of theoretical concepts.

One of the questions we explored throughout this past school term was “what type of change?” Some changes are “large, dramatic, and disruptive” (a change in business strategy, for example) while others are “miniscule” and resemble moves towards simple, process improvement. A question facing a change manager, or change agent, on a regular basis is “what kind of change is necessary to turn things around in this organization?”

What we have discovered through process theories is that large, disruptive changes are not always the answer. Sometimes everything is running fine; the organization just needs some maintenance in its daily processes. Mistaking the appropriate depth of change can be catastrophic to a prospective change manager or change agent.

Another concept we covered was the positivity which tends to be associated with large, disruptive changes. What we discovered was that many change managers and change agents want to implement enormous changes which are successful and make them look “successful” as change managers and change agents. This makes perfect sense, but if often creates issues throughout the process.

My professor started using the word “hummingbirds” to describe CEOs of small businesses who “continuously flap their wings and buzz from place to place  asserting their ‘new, innovative’ ideas for organizational change.” Many times, these individuals—despite their social status or positional authority—lose the support of their employees because they attempt to assert too many changes too quickly. It can almost be likened to a creative disease.

Today, as I was reviewing for my final exam in the course, a thought formulated: “Is there a ‘high’ associated with transformational change?”

I want you to consider this question for a few moments to yourself…

For those of us who want to grow and “change,” there is always an internal desire for change. As noted above, sometimes these “changes” are more of a “powerplay” than anything. We have seen this everywhere, from public school boards, to legislation, to church congregations, to non-profit organizations, and everything in between. In theory, people who desire growth also desire some level of change and embrace that change.

However, what if our perspective on the “depth of change” which is supposed to occur is only one-sided and biased? What if, when we search for a diet plan which will yield phenomenal results in one month, we should just be getting up at 4:30 every morning and going for a jog?

Allow me to paint another picture for a moment. I played baseball for 12 years in grade school. I loved the game! I loved playing the game, thinking about the game, and envisioning myself playing the game. One of the concepts we were taught in baseball was the concept of “delayed gratitude.” In other words, “…the good things in life aren’t free. They take time and effort to achieve. Work now and reward yourself later. Eye on the ball.”

Joe Paterno used to say it well “Take care of the little things, and the big things will take care of themselves.”

I want to challenge you with this concept today. Instead of focusing on that big, disruptive, transformational change you’ve been envisioning for 6 months, maybe you should start focusing on 1, 2, or 3 little things that you would really like to see change in your everyday life. For example, maybe you would like to read a little bit more. Perhaps you would like to start a morning run, or perhaps you just need to set aside 5 extra minutes each day to meditate or pray. I bet that if you can implement small changes consistently over a year’s time, you will see desired change taking place within a year’s time.

Try it: set 3 small goals for yourself today. Write them down, write the date, implement those changes every day, and come back in one year.

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