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Can You Imagine Positive Change?

Thursday, December 6, 2018 | by Rachel Trainum


In season 5 episode 16 of Friends, you can fast forward to the 16:46 time marker and watch Ross, Rachel and Chandler attempt to get Ross' new couch up a tight stairwell. He's screaming pivot, but they're not moving upward or anywhere with the couch.

Meanwhile Ross is assuming that both Rachel and Chandler know what pivot means. It means changing the position you're in and turning. However, at the end of the scene Chandler asks, "Oh you know, what did you mean when you said pivot?"

When attempting change, it can be frustrating if your vision or what needs to be done is clear to you, and not the other people involved.

Pursuing change can be difficult when faced with resistance. In Ross' case, the resistance was the size of the stairwell compared to the couch, friends who didn't understand his terminology, and lack of clear communication. Resistance you experience with change could come from you, team members, your boss or maybe your employees.

Beth Comstock author of Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity and the Power of Change uses 'pivot' often when explaining moments of change. Her experience working as a change-agent for General Electric and NBC, gives her insight to innovating change and sharing what it takes to make it happen.

Working for a major company such as GE, and being the one to lead and guide change, she was met with much resistance from peers and managers. She says she faced resistance often and in the beginning because inevitably ideas fail and manager don't want to be associated with failed projects.

So it's your responsibility to be innovative, you have to learn to be comfortable with some level of "maybe" as a change-maker says Comstock. She goes on to say change is not a single act or initiative. It is an ever-evolving dynamic in which you prod and seed the environment with a range of friction-causing catalysts. In other words, you are constantly pivoting until it's right.

While the Friends reference is an isolated example of change, it does spark some of the key factors that are important when embracing change. As someone pursuing change, Comstock says you can't let being afraid, stop you from sharing your vision and what you hope to achieve from it. She says you need to sell your vision, make a plan for it and include people to contribute in building it. With those three parts Comstock believes that's truly how change gets started.

"The pace of change is never going to be slower than today. Change happens but our responsibility is to shape it, adapt to it, and make it work for us." - Beth Comstock

Comstock explains that when change is beginning or as it's happening, it's important to provide open communication throughout the process. She says to communicate early and often to prevent friction and loss of trust.

"By asking the right questions throughout the year, instead of annually feeding employees abstract benchmarks to hit, we were pivoting to an environment that gives permission, encourages candor, and sets up new levels of trust," says Comstock.

"Changing our mental models requires much more than a single lecture, no matter how convincing the evidence; it requires an ongoing presentation of experiences, discussions, provocations." Comstock said.

Comstock's book reiterates many of the same sentiments that Tero believes when it comes to change and managing change.

At Tero, we talk a lot about change, even offering a course called Championing Innovation and Leading Change, and acknowledge the difficulty that comes with it. Many agree that change is an obvious and undeniable fact of life. Change simply means moving forward and not standing still. The most successful individuals and organizations are those that don't run from change, but turn it to their advantage.

Like Tero, Comstock says that as a leader you have to be the one to champion change.

"As a change-maker, you will have your share of failures. It's the nature of the job. The Important thing is to learn from them." - Beth Comstock


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