Change Happens

Most of us live - and think as if the world were static, or as if it should be.

Right from the day we learnt that a looking glass shows our own likeness to us we have been spending minutes and hours before the funny thing. Even today I am sure you must have seen yourself in the glass. Did it ever happen to you that the individual appearing before you every time you are before a mirror may not exactly be the YOU, that you are conscious of? You were a kid and grew gradually. You continue to grow old every second whether you like it or not! Hardly do we feel that the change is happening. Are you the same individual whom you looked at, yesterday? As individuals, as professionals, and as members or leaders of organizations, too often the way we act, plan, and react betrays the assumption that today is not different from yesterday and tomorrow will be much like today, that we'll slide by all right if we just get a little better, a little smarter, at doing what we are already doing. The reality is quite different: Of the multiple separate elements that make up what you think of as your "self," many are likely to change over the next five to ten years -- what you do for a living, how you carry out that career, what you call yourself professionally, the shape of the organization within which you work, whom you claim as spouse or mate, the flavor of that relationship, your financial situation, where you live, your relationships with your parents, children, and friends, your health, even your beliefs and assumptions about yourself and the world around you. Some will change drastically, some subtly. Some will change incrementally, some cataclysmically. Some will be changed by outside forces, some from within. When we look at the trends underlying Nothing suggests that this is going the rate of change - trends within to get easier. In fact, every indication society, demographic forces, is that the ride will get a lot wilder technological shifts - nothing suggests that this is going to get easier. In fact, as we look forward into the new century, every indication is that the ride will get much wilder.

Both for individuals and for organizations, the skills that we most need to learn in order to survive and thrive are the skills of dealing with change. Prediction: Faced with uncertainty, the most natural thing to do is to try to cut down on the uncertainty. We try to predict the future. Should I take an umbrella? Is the stock market going to fall? How much do I expect to earn this year? How will the department's budget end up? This is classic trend analysis. It works over the relatively short term, when things are relatively stable, when one major variable changes at a time: the budget will rise by three to five percent, there's a sixty percent chance of showers by nightfall. But there are problems with trend analysis. Consider the race car driver, given to plunging down a narrow, crowded track at heart-stopping speeds. At 220 miles per hour, he is betting his life on an exacting analysis of the short-term future. What if an accident occurs, a collision, a fireball in the middle of the track ahead of him? Which way should he steer to avoid the flaming wreckage? There is, in fact, a rule of thumb for this situation, and it might surprise you. The rule is: steer directly toward the spot where the accident began. The spot where the accident happened is the least likely spot for the wreckage to be when he gets there. Surprisingly, this rule of thumb maps onto our personal, professional, and organizational lives. Today's trends have some predictive power over the short term, when other variables are not changing at the same time. Over any longer term, when other variables come into play, the target the trends seem to be headed for today is actually the least likely place for them to end up. Chaos theory: There is a mathematical reality at the core of chaos theory: when one or two variables change over time, the result is a linear equation, a plot on a graph: We can actually plot the trend of their interactions. Cost of materials fall by a certain percentage, customer turnover rises by a certain percent, labor costs rise by a different percent, and in a year we are here on the graph, in two years we are here. But when a larger number of different variables change over time, and the changing value of each one becomes the input for another, the resulting equation is non-linear. Its output becomes not a line but a hairball, steel wool, a snowstorm. The trend becomes not just very difficult to predict, but fundamentally impossible. The more variables there are that are changing and interacting, the more turbulent our future, and the less we can predict it. So we have to prepare for it in a different way. In San Francisco, because of the interaction of ocean currents and winds, the inland heat, and the city's famous hills, the summer

weather can vary wildly from one neighborhood to the next, from wind-blown fog to balmy sunshine to drizzle. So the experienced San Franciscan makes little attempt to predict the summer weather, but instead dresses in layers shirt, sweater, jacket, with a windbreaker folded into the attaché. He becomes adaptable, moment to moment. How do I prepare for an unpredictable future? Six practices will help us prepare for a future that is far less predictable than what we have encountered in the past:  Deeper analysis: Look beyond surface trends to the underlying changes. Take one trend as an example: suppose there is a rise in pregnancy among unmarried teens in your area. The first impulse is to provide the teens with condoms, or simply tell them to knock it off. Will that work? I don't think so. We have to go deeper: What is the underlying change? Are there more teens? More teen unemployment? A lack of recreation facilities? A different cultural group moving into the area? A lack of family planning and abortion services? A drop in sex education? Loosening influence of churches and families? These can tell you more about the future -- and the possible solutions -- than the surface trend can.  Wider scanning: Search regularly far beyond your accustomed bounds for the "seventh wave" that could change everything. U.S. healthcare organizations traditionally concerned themselves with attracting doctors and community donors, and dealing with federal and state regulation. They were blindsided by coalitions of employers, which are now the fundamental drivers of change in the industry. Disney fought home videocassette recorders tooth and nail, taking manufacturers to court, claiming that home video would destroy their theatrical movie business. They lost the suit, VCRs became popular -- and now Disney is the single largest seller of home videos.  Constant scanning: Don't rely on a one-time analysis by an outside consultant, a therapist, or a personal change seminar. Build future scanning into your regular practice. Build your life as a learning experience, build your organization around its ability to learn. If your learning is only a product of something special, something extra (a retreat, a class, a period of re-engineering), it will be rare, it will be meager, and it will not integrate well into everyday life. If learning arises out of the everyday way that you or your organization goes about your business, learning will be constant, rich, and easily assimilable.  Scenarios: As opposed to trend analysis, working with scenarios is a way to build a number of alternative futures. It helps us prepare for many possible futures, and spot the scenarios that could particularly lethal - or particularly attractive.  Vision: The most potent factor in the creation of your future is you. Victory does not always go to the largest armies, the best deployment, and the

most firepower. It goes as often to the smaller force with the greatest imagination, flexibility, and boldness, with the vision to make something happen. Every vision of the future sets off its own feedback loop. One prepares for what one believes will happen. At the same time, that preparation makes it more likely that this particular future will happen. Ask yourself what future you would prefer. Ask yourself what you are preparing for. For most organizations and individuals, the two are drastically different. If the point of future scanning is to have a more desirable future, rather than a less desirable one, then it is not enough simply to do your best at figuring out what is likely to happen and react to it. The best way to get to a more desirable future is to go out and create it, to envision that future and plan for it.  Learning the skills of change: Surviving and thriving in a turbulent environment calls for a particular skill set, one that is not taught in university courses. These skills are more than a certain philosophical bent, or a quirk of personality. They are actual methods, tools, ways of seeing that work in turbulent environments. They are the skills of the surfer and the martial artist, the skills of jazz rather than chamber music, soccer rather than baseball. Some are obvious without long thought -- a certain flexibility, for instance. Others require a deeper study: for instance, the ability to turn the force of what is coming at you to your own advantage. Other skills may be completely counter-intuitive: the skill, for instance, of "anamnesis," the ancient mystic's ability in the middle of the shifting, swirling present to reach back and touch what is deep and constant. In this web site we will explore these skills in detail, working through a number of propositions, observations, and rules of thumb that I call the "Change Codes." We will talk about change in our personal lives, our professional careers, and in the organizations that we help shepherd. One of my fundamental beliefs about change is that it is fractal in nature: that is, its form remains similar at different scales. There are things we can learn about it from studying intra-psychic phenomena that can inform our study of organizations, insights gained from family dynamics that can apply to communities or corporations.

The Five Fundamentals of Dealing with Change
Some people, and some organizations, deal well with change. In fact, they seem to thrive on it. They take its

challenges as sources of enormous energy to drive them forward -- yet they cut their own path. Like a surfer riding the face of a thundering comber, they use the power of the wave to create their own kind of beauty. Some people, and some organizations, fall apart in the face of change. They seemed well organized -- nice office building, confident CEO, vigorous growth

(or nice spouse, good family, positive outlook) -- until something changes in their environment. Maybe a major employer pulls out of town, a "golden agers" retirement development goes in, and the customer base changes suddenly. Or maybe it's a family change: the last kid has left home, and your spouse decides to open a business. And it's Yeats all over again: Things fall apart, The center cannot hold." And it's Yeats all over again: "Things fall apart, the center cannot hold." Things go from bad to worse in a spiral: a problem with getting the right mix of customers problem cuts income, margins fall. The banks see you're in trouble, and the short-term lending dries up. Your profit margin falls, you try to make it up on volume, and the service levels fall. Customer satisfaction falls, and those who can afford it go to some other shop -- and the customer mix problem gets worse. What's the real difference between those who thrive on change and those who fall apart, clawing and scrabbling their way down a slippery slope? Is it just luck? Could be, if it happened once. But look carefully: people and organizations seem to have a pattern over their lifetimes. We all know some people that seem to shoot themselves in the foot every chance they get. Study companies that know how to survive, and you'll find corporations as much as 700 years old that have survived under monarchies, dictatorships, and revolutionary councils, through war and depression, plague and natural disaster. That takes far more than luck. People and organizations that thrive on change share some fundamental attributes. And change is fractal: its basic nature looks the same at different scales. So the attributes that make an organization powerfully adaptive also make a relationship flexible and fruitful, a community livable, and an individual creative, adaptive, and secure in the midst of turbulence.

Five fundamentals
Organisms that thrive in a changing environment share these five necessary attributes:  Husbanded Resources: Like an army that does not get too far ahead of its supply train, like a family that stays out of short-term debt and builds up savings, like a man who reaches his seventies with a body he has never abused, an organism that does not waste its capital has more options when it is threatened.

This can mean an array of things, depending on the context. In individuals, families and corporations, it means financial conservativism. It means not over-extending yourself. Search as you might among the oldest corporations, and you won't find any that practice creative financing. They tend to the fundamentals. It doesn't mean you have to be rich. A little observation will show that rich people and organizations over-extend themselves as easily as anyone else. In many ways, in fact, they have more opportunity, since it is easier for people and organizations with assets to borrow money. It means, at whatever financial level you currently exist, keeping debt down and savings up, so that you have resources on which to draw when you need them. In individuals, this means staying in good mental and physical health. In couples and families, it means working to keep the relationships vital and strong long before any crisis comes.  Abundant Relationships: In an organization, we typically constrain relationships. We form our bonds with our immediate superiors and subordinates, and peers with whom we work closely. We don't form strong bonds with people in the next work unit over, or several levels above or below us in the hierarchy. Yet organizations in which people have multiple bonds and a lot of history together do better in times of difficulty. In the early 1980s, John Kotter, in his groundbreaking study The General Manager, looked intensely at the management styles of CEOs and division directors who were generally acknowledged as excellent organizational leaders. One of the attributes these leaders had in common was that they seemed to know everyone -- not only their peers, subordinates, and superiors, but people in other divisions, clergy in the town, the union leaders, their counterparts at other organizations, the janitor who vacuumed their offices. And when the time came, each of these relationship was useful, often in unpredictable ways. One of the many difficulties of the Vietnam War was organizational: officers and fighting units were not trained and deployed together, as in In organizations, we typically constrain relationships most earlier wars. Rather, individual soldiers and officers were rotated in and out of units. The official rationale was that it was not good for fighting men to get "too attached" to their comrades and leaders. In practice, it meant less trust, with veteran fighters trying to survive their last weeks "in country" often going out into the jungle led by newlyarrived greenhorns that they barely knew.

In normal times, the depth and multiplicity of relationships within an organization seems merely pleasant, and preferable to a culture that is deeply divided between labor and management, the "suits" and the technicians, operations and marketing, along the thousand fissures that develop in the everyday world of work. In times of turbulence, abundant relationships become critical to the life of the organization. In families, this means a richness and depth of relationships, not only within the nuclear family, but beyond the family walls into the extended family, and the surrounding community. In an individual, this translates to full participation of all parts of the personality. Researchers into cases of "multiple personalities" tell us that these cases are only extreme versions of ourselves. In "multiples" the relationships between the parts of the personality have broken down, but we all have multiple parts. Often one part -- a controlling aspect, say, or a victimized aspect -- comes to dominate the personality, while other parts are ignored. This kind of personality is brittle and inflexible. Strong and flexible personalities bring all parts to the table, from the "inner child," full of wonder, delight, and sadness, to the controller, arbiter of order and purpose.  Abundant Information: In our families, we keep secrets. We keep secrets even within ourselves: "Just call me Cleopatra; I'm the Queen of Denial." In organizations, we restrict information, holding onto it as a source of power. In each of these situations, the individual parts of the organism have enough information to do their ordinary jobs, but not enough to help the organization through a crisis. If you have been through a natural disaster, you have seen how the need for information widens dramatically: suddenly you may need to know where the gas shut-off valve is, how to do CPR, or the best way to set sandbags. In an organization, the difference between an open environment and a secretive one can be dramatic. I have seen an organization re-organize and downsize itself, eliminating half of all mid-level positions, in a single four-hour meeting, with almost all of those who left taking the decision voluntarily -- when they were given adequate information, and plenty of time before the meeting to think it over. Certain types of information that organizations have, such as personnel information and some securities information, are legally restricted. Others, such as Coke's secret formula and the design of Intel's next chip, are truly trade secrets, and must be guarded. But typically we restrict information far beyond those narrow boundaries. The ideal to which we

should aspire, for the good of the organization, is a free flow of information. For instance, many organizations have improved their labor relations by cleanly opening their books to the union. The power lost is the power to manipulate and obfuscate. The power gained is the power to find common ground. Sometimes revealing facts about yourself or your organization leaves you truly more vulnerable -- if, for instance, your strategy was based on tricking or manipulating the competition, your own workers, your spouse, or yourself. But such strategies are themselves questionable, since they damage the very relationships on which your survival depends  Distributed Power: Each decision made as far from the center as possible -that's a mark of an adaptable organism. In an individual, this looks like "trusting your gut," rather than ignoring your gut to follow a rigid plan. In a family, it means considerable autonomy for each individual, within the broad sense of the family's spirit and purpose. In an organization, it means that each decision is taken as low down in the organization as possible. The CEO deciding what kind of postage meter to buy is a sign of a flawed, brittle organization. The reason is simple: a centralized, hierarchical organization fully uses only one brain: Mr. Big's. Every other brain is only used to execute his orders, with all the creative, inventive, entrepreneurial parts shut off, all the excitement and energy put on hold. In order to harness all the brain power in your organization, you must give them tasks to work out -- which means giving them the decisionmaking power they need to try different solutions. They must have the ability to fail. To many people, this seems an inversion of the norm in the powerful organizations they see around them. Yet some of the largest, most successful organizations on the planet are extreme examples of distributed power. The global headquarters of Royal Dutch Shell has little power over its various national companies, who work together through an internal commodities exchange. Visa International is designed on just such a model. It is owned by its member banks, all decisions are reached by consensus, and members are free to market the Visa products any way they like -- yet decisions are made rapidly, and consistency is enforced across the system, by mutual agreement.  A Common Story: Healthy, flexible individuals have a clear sense of purpose, and all parts of the personality are lined up behind that purpose.

In healthy, flexible families, communities, and organizations, everyone has a sense of what their common endeavour is. The history of the organism is held in common, and its future vision is developed in common. I have travelled many thousands of miles on Amtrak, and I have overheard many conversations among its employees. Not one concerned passenger comfort, safety, or efficiency -- what the employees might be giving to the life of the organism. Every single one concerned grievances, vacations, and pay negotiations -- what the employees are getting. At Budweiser, in contrast, any janitor or electrician will happily talk about the flavor and consistency of the beer, how it is attained, and how their job relates to it. At Sony's TV plants, the people on the manufacturing lines will gladly talk about the flatness of their tubes, the consistency of the image, and the brightness of the screen, and show off the new bracket they devised to decrease vibration in shipping. It is this common story that allows an organization to function as a unit despite its distributed decision-making power. When Sony's TV unit in San Diego decided to design and market a cheap tele-conferencing monitor-top box, they knew what made a product a Sony, they knew Sony's product line, market position, and vision of the future. They didn't ask anyone's permission, but the venture fit right in. It was a true Sony product. Test yourself How well are you organization prepared to survive increasing turbulence? Look over these five attributes:      husbanded resources abundant relationships abundant information distributed power a common story

How well do they describe you or your organization? What could you do differently to put yourself or your organization on a firmer, more conservative financial footing? To strengthen and multiply relationships? To increase the free flow of information? To distribute decision-making power? To nurture a common sense of the past, of your present daily purpose, and your vision of the future?

What's your goal in dealing with change?
If we are to deal productively and powerfully with change, we have to start by asking: What's the point?
Here comes a train down the track: a manager causing morale problems with his bad attitude, competition for a major contract, legislation that threatens to cut your revenue by a third or more, a rival organization trying to entice away your top-producing customers -- or a child who seems to have discovered drugs, a spouse who seems to be changing drastically, a nagging uncertainty about your own future. Before you react, stop and ask yourself: What's my goal? What am I trying to accomplish? Avoidance For many of us, when faced with an impending change -- whether a new CEO, a shift in the political structure of the town, or a change in our personal relationships -- the goal is simple avoidance: "I will not let this change effect me." The thoughts that go along with such a stance often have to do with identity: "I am the kind of person who does things this way. I am not the kind of person who does things that way." As Popeye would say, "I am what I am and that's all what I am." This actually works -- but only for matters that turn out to be irrelevant. For things that make a real difference, it is a foolish stance. When a train is coming, it's best to get off the track. When opportunity knocks, it's best to go to the door and open it. Rigidity in a turbulent environment leaves you with few options. The trick is to recognize "the difference that makes a difference" (as Gregory Bateson defined true information), to separate the relevant from the irrelevant. Often we give too much energy and attention to changes that are far away and have little potential to effect us -- national political debates, abstract worries about relationships, the latest technological fads -- and not enough to the things that are right in front of us, the task that is at hand.

Acceptance For other people the goal is merely to accept change, to be flexible, to "swing with it," to say, in the dismissive argot of children, "Whatever." Flexibility can be a good first step in dealing with change, but it cannot be the last step. And complete flexibility is usually illusory. If you are saying "Yes" too often and too easily, you are probably fooling yourself, building up resentments and defenses outside of your conscious awareness. These are the easy-going, agreeable people who suddenly walk out on the marriage, chuck the job, sour on the project. These are the organizations that back out of the too-hasty merger or joint venture. Dominance For some, the goal of dealing with change is to dominate, to win. But this goal is equally ill-conceived. Winning is about the other: I win if my opponent suffers. In a garden, the plants compete for the available water, sunlight, and nutrients. Yet we do not measure the success of one plant by the failure of the plants around it. We measure it in its own terms: its size, the number, size, and flavor of its fruit, the lushness of its foliage, the grace of its shape and color. In aikido and some other martial arts, there are practices called jiyu waza andrandori, in which one might be faced with many different attackers at once, or by a series of attackers all using different techniques -- strikes, kicks, grabs. Done well, the defense is astonishing, lovely, and never twice the same, the attackers pin wheeling through space, falling in heaps, or slamming into the mat. Yet throwing the attacker is not the goal. Some attackers are simply bypassed, or deftly waltzed into the path of another attacker. The goal -- the point of the exercise -- is for the defender to stay on her feet, able to move, in charge of her space. Success is defined not by the defeat of the attacker, but by the continued freedom and potency of the defender. The reason that dominance, "winning," does not work is simple: it is aimed at the wrong target. Whatever the change that is headed our way, whoever the "attacker," what we truly have to struggle with is ourselves. James Collins and Jerry Porras of Stanford University, found this to be true in their study of 18 "visionary" companies that were experts in survival (such as Boeing, Disney, and Sony). Arie de Geus and the Shell Global Planning Group found it to be true in their studies of the world's longest lived companies:

The organizations that survive and thrive do not ask,” How can I beat the competition?" They ask, "How can I outdo myself?" The organizations that survive and thrive over a long period of time do not ask themselves, "How can I beat the competition?" They ask themselves, "How can I outdo myself?" Each of these organizations, at crucial times in their histories, took on overwhelming tasks (Collins and Porras call them "BHAGs," or "big hairy audacious goals") -- such as Sony deciding to move into the American market, or Motorola pushing for "Six-Sigma" levels of quality. Often, as for Walt Disney creating Snow White or building Disneyland, or Boeing when it built the 707, and again when it built the 747, these goals were outrageous in size, true "bet the company" gambles. Each of these were in response to changes in their environments -- the maturing of animation, for instance, or advances in jet engine and aircraft construction technologies. But they went far beyond mere reactions. And they had little to do with what the other guy was doing. In many cases, no one else was doing anything like it. By taking on these BHAGs, they captured the imagination and energy of everyone in their organization, and were able to make extraordinary efforts. But there is irony here as well: by focusing on their own capacities to create something new, rather than focusing on their competition, they surged ahead of the competition and gained positions as market leaders that lasted for decades. Those who are driven by competition are always in reaction. They are never ahead of the pack. In martial arts, the defender succeeds by deciding the pace of the battle, its direction, and who she will take on next. The defender, paradoxically, has all the freedom, because she is responding to the situation, while the attackers can only react to her. In healthcare, an organization that can make swift changes in a turbulent environment sets the pace for others in their market, forcing them into changes that are reactive, often ill-conceived, and made without proper foundation. Using the energy of change Success in dealing with change is not about refusing to let it effect you, or simply accepting it, or defeating it. Success in dealing with change is about profiting from it, about using the energy that it brings into your life to challenge yourself, to become larger, deeper, more lush, more fruitful, more useful to those around you -- as Disney used the Baby Boom, as Boeing used new technologies, as Columbia/HCA has used increased cost pressures, the disintegration of other for-profit chains, and the heavy debt load of not-forprofits. Each of these acted in the midst of powerful, chaotic, shifting forces of change. But they did not merely react to change, they danced with it.

The key thing to remember when dancing with a gorilla is this: you don't stop when you get tired. You stop when the gorilla gets tired. And the gorilla has more energy than you do. Try to run away, and the gorilla will catch you. Hold on tightly and artfully, and you can make the gorilla do all the work. On the martial arts mat, after a well-done randori, the attackers are exhausted, puffing and sweating. The defender is calm and centered. She has used the manic energy of her attackers, and very little of her own. So: faced with changes beyond our control (a shifting market for our services, unprecedented demands for cost reductions, expensive new technologies, a sudden change in governance -- or a divorce, or the loss of a job) the goal is not merely to survive, but to thrive, using the very energy that the change brings to us. As the martial arts saying has it, "The hit is a gift." Two friends are researching a book on happiness. In interviewing scores of truly happy people, this was the one factor that they had in common -- not wealth, Is this easy? No. It is unbelievably difficult. And it is counter-intuitive to an extraordinary degree. It can seem like crazy response. health, or diet, not youth or age, not being married or single, not being religious, or educated, but only this: the ability to transmute the changes in their environment, even the evil and difficult changes, into power, into positive, useful energy. The people they interviewed had no more luck than anyone else. Some had suffered the death of children, or disfiguring diseases. Some even faced an early death from terminal illness. All were able, over time, to find good for themselves in these evil events. Is this easy, fun, and educational? No, it is unbelievably difficult. And it is counter-intuitive to an extraordinary degree. It can seem like a crazy response to news of a contract falling through, or a diagnosis of heart disease, to say to yourself, "What can I gain from this? How can the loss make our organization stronger? How can I use the power of heart disease to change my life for the better?" Yet at some point, after the disbelief, the anger, the fear, this becomes the only sane option, the only one that works. The nurses' strike leads you to rebuild relationships within the organization, the heart disease leads you to a better diet, toward re-thinking your priorities, evaluating your life. If there were any easier way, we'd take it.

The root ideas in dealing with change
Sun Tzu, in the 2500-year-old classic The Art Of War, declares that "there is no invariable strategic advantage (shih), no invariable position (hsing), which can be relied upon at all times." Warfare is an

extreme example of human turbulence. As in warfare, there is no cookbook method for dealing with change, no fixed and reliable strategy -- and yet there are certain fundamental ideas that can help us think about our situations. These ideas come from a wide variety of sources, including:       theories dealing with chaos and complexity systems thinking and complex adaptive systems theory family dynamics organizational development Eastern mystical thought (especially Taoism) the martial arts (especially Aikido)

None of these are simple ideas. There is no "60-Second Change Manager" checklist, no three simple thoughts that can make us masters of turbulence. But we have to start somewhere, and the best place might well be a quick discussion of some of these fundamental ideas. Systems thinking: Traditionally science has studied objects in isolation, and broken them down further to study their parts, dissecting a frog, for instance, to discover how it works. This is called "reductionist thinking," and it can be very powerful. Starting in the late 1940s, springing from the studies of communications, computation, and game theory during World War II, and especially from the work of John von Neumann and Norbert Weiner, some scientists began to look in the other direction. If we want to understand a frog, they would say, we need to learn about the world in which it lives -- the pond, with its lily pads, fish, and flies. This "systems thinking" proved equally powerful, in almost every field. Gregory Bateson, for instance, pointed out that if we want to understand a mentally ill person, it helps to look at the web of family communications in which that person lives. In the biosciences, this spawned the whole idea of an "ecology." In health and city planning, it led to the "Healthy Cities" movement. Rather than analyzing the pieces of the whole, systems thinking focuses on the

interaction between the pieces, in terms of control, communication, and feedback. An understanding of systems thinking has turned out to be fundamental to any study of change. Chaos theory: Science has traditionally made things simple in order to study them. For instance, a scientist might try to approximate the mass of a mountain by imagining that it was a pyramid of equal size. But of course, few things in nature are truly that simple. In recent years, scientists have found ways to mimic and study the real complexity of natural structures such as ferns, mountains, and the rings of Saturn, as well as chaotic surges in the power grid and interactions within families. This body of "chaos theory" has arisen from a variety of sources, including quantum mechanics, probability, systems thinking, and the study of communications. It focuses on how complexity is generated, especially in iterative processes, in which the output of one phase is the input of the next phase. It tries to discern what is theoretically predictable, and what is fundamentally unpredictable, no matter how much we know about the present. It provides a powerful new way of thinking about complex change. Linear vs. non-linear: The solutions to a linear equation, plotted on a graph, make a line. Changes are proportional: change one variable (increase plant capacity a small amount) and other variables change with it (production rises, as does the payroll, and the need for raw material). Changes are smooth and continuous. Non-linear equations do not produce a line on a graph, but rather weird clouds, rills, and whirlpools. Changes can be sudden, paradoxical, and chaotic: increase plant capacity a small amount, and production doubles. Or falls drastically. Or flips from one to the other. As managers, of course, we try to keep things linear and predictable. But the systems we manage are complex, and tend to be nonlinear. Complex adaptive systems: Any system with more than a few variables or inputs can be said to be complex. A simple system reacts in a "linear" fashion. The outcomes of a complex system are non-linear, and cannot be predicted with any certainty, no matter how much information we have about them. They are less like machines and more like hurricanes, or families, or ant colonies. They are adaptive in that they interact with their environment. For instance, an ant colony will react to a hard winter by adding insulation, sealing ventilation holes, abandoning parts of the ant hill, and even allowing many of its individual members to die of so that the colony will be preserved in all its functions -- it adapts to its environment. Complex adaptive systems take in and dissipate energy; they "learn" in one way

or another, in order to preserve themselves. Organizations are complex adaptive systems. So are you. Possibility space: In such a complex, non-linear space, the possibilities of the future are not predictable -- but they are also not infinite. The future possibilities of an organization and its campus might include merger, liquidation, growth, and even transformation of parts of it into, say, office buildings, insurance organizations or substance abuse clinics. It is far less likely that an organization will turn into, say, a small tropical country, a brother-in-law, or an ice-cream bar. The clouds of outcomes that have a greater-than-trivial probability of happening are the "possibility space" for the future of that system. Sensitivity of initial conditions: No matter how much information we have about a complex interaction, we cannot predict its outcome. However, there is something we can do by gathering enough information and analyzing it: we can determine which of the "initial conditions" are important to the outcome. A landing airplane has little sensitivity to whether the runway is asphalt or concrete, but a lot of sensitivity to the presence of ice on the wings or wind shear in the descent path. Emergence: No ant knows how to make an anthill. The anthill "emerges" from the much simpler interactions of the ants. No one decides which way the stock market will go. Its activity emerges from millions of decisions made by stockholders. An organization's leaders make the decisions, yet the organization's actual behavior can surprise its leaders. The organization can seem to resist its leaders, even when it doesn't seem that anyone in particular is resisting. As John Holland of the University of Michigan puts it, "the control of a complex adaptive system tends to be highly dispersed." Hive mind: In common parlance, "hive mind" conjures legions of yes-men and yes-women working with cult-like unanimity of thought, like the Borg of the "Star Trek" TV series, with its mantra: "You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile." In the context of bio-systems theory, "hive mind" refers to something quite different: the intelligence that emerges from the intricate, multiple connections of units that themselves have little or no intelligence, the way a bee-hive, for instance, "decides" that it is time to split in two, make a new queen, and send half of the workers off with her to a new home. Experts in bee behavior insist that the decision is clearly not made by the queen, who must be coaxed and sometimes

dragged and pushed out of the hive, but by the hive itself, in the interaction of the workers. Every organization, community, and family has a hive mind, which makes decisions and expresses them in action (or inaction) -- often not consciously, often not overtly expressed, and often opposed to, or at right angles to, the decisions of the official leadership. Managing this hive mind, speaking to its needs, fears, and expectations, is a major part of leadership. Feedback loops: Feedback loops are the cycles by which we influence each other's actions. They come in two flavors, positive and negative. The words "positive" and "negative" have nothing to do with whether the outcome is good or bad. A stock market crash is a positive feedback loop. A thermostat, which keeps a room at a pleasant temperature, is a negative feedback loop. A positive feedback loop re-inforces itself at each turn: a falling market in Tokyo causes London stockholders to sell, which causes New York stockholders to panic, and so forth. A negative loop folds back on itself, each turn countering the previous one: a thermostat responds to a cool room by turning on the heater, the heater warms the room, the thermostat responds to the warm room by turning off the heater, the room cools, and so on, around and around. Homeostasis, the body's way of keeping itself on an even keel, at optimal temperature and chemical balance, is a complex tangle of negative feedback loops. Shock, on the other hand, is a positive feedback loop. Both kinds exist in organizations. Quality control, for instance, is a negative feedback loop: a mistake or problem results in an improvement to the system that will prevent that mistake. Labor trouble, a divorce, or an addiction is usually the result of a positive feedback loop: each step in the process pushes the next one further from the optimal, feeds it, magnifies it -- each accusation gives the other side more ammunition and makes it harder to back down, each drink makes it harder to remember why it was important not to drink, and harder to summon the will to stop. Scale: The fundamental nature of change is fractal: that is, it is the same at different scales, much like a slice through a small piece of a cauliflower looks identical to a slice through the whole cauliflower. The observations we are making here about feedback and chaotic unpredictability, for instance, apply equally well to families, communities, organizations, industries, and nations. Paradoxically, questions of scale are of great importance in attempting change. For instance, debate over "family values" has raged on the U.S. political landscape for over a decade. Certainly our national laws and policies can be

better or worse in their influence on values, but it is equally clear that no federal legislation will fundamentally change our values. Values are not generated at that scale. They are generated at the scale of church, community, family, and school. Attempting to solve a problem at the wrong scale makes it more difficult. Most pollution problems, for instance, need to be solved over entire bio-regions -- it doesn't work to clean up the stream that is crossing my back yard if the stream drains a mine tailing a mile upstream. Trade problems have an unalterably global nature, while health problems are fundamentally local (since they occur in individual bodies) and communitybased (since so many of the vectors of individual health arise out of community and family). Taoism: Of all the world's great spiritual books, the Tao Te Ching ("The Classic of the Way and its Power") is perhaps the most mysterious, from its first sentence ("The way of which we can speak is not the true way") to its last ("The path of the wise is to act for others, not to compete"), some 5000 characters later. This book, attributed to Lao Tzu, along with the works of Chuang Tzu and others, form the basis of philosophical Taoism, for 2500 years one of the two poles of Chinese intellectual life: Confucianism (practical, hierarchical, interested in relationship, rules and duty) and Taoism (evocative, paradoxical, and interested in the nature of chaos and change). It will take considerable unpacking to show the relevance of this ancient text to modern business decisions and personal dilemmas, but its assumptions and themes show a deep wisdom about the nature of change: the inter-related, systemic nature of things; the way strength arises from weakness, and vice versa; how a retreat can be an advance, and an advance a defeat; the paradoxical nature of knowledge; and the importance of true listening ("The wise one constantly has no set mind; he takes the mind of the common people as his mind"). Martial arts: All martial arts attempt to study human conflict, and the way the human body moves in the midst of turbulence. When we are dealing with change, the conflicts we face are rarely physical -- yet the insights of the martial arts can be very useful. In restructuring an organization, for instance, it's not much use to know how to knock someone to the floor, but it can be very useful to know the advantages of being a target, the importance of setting the rhythm of the action, and the power of discovering and attracting your opponent's ki, their true inner strength.

Anamnesis: The goal of medieval Christian mystics was not to discover something new, but to end their amnesia, to get back to something they had always known, their oneness with the Divine. They called this "anamnesis," the end of forgetting. Watch a master martial artist, a champion sprinter, a great soprano. Under pressure they do not attempt to add something new, something more. Rather they reach back to what is deep and constant for them -- what the martial artist would call her "ground" or "base." In dealing with change, we can be flexible, rapid, and welcoming to new things only when we have the strongest possible connection to that which is deep and constant -- our values, our place in the universe, who we are.

The Skills of the Change Master
The fundamental skills of the rest of the decade and the opening of the new century will be the skills of dealing with change. They are the skills of jazz, not of chamber
music, of basketball rather than baseball, of poker rather than chess, skills of dealing with situations that are in constant flux, situations about which you do not know enough to make a decision - yet you must constantly make decisions, and even failing to decide is itself a decision, irrevocable, the lost time unrecoverable, the opportunity evaporated. Can you do this? Do you have the skills? Are you ready? They don't teach these skills in school. I haven't seen a real curriculum for them anywhere. For some people, the skills of dealing with change are difficult, and do not come easily. I am convinced, though, that they can be learned by anybody. What are these skills? If you ask people to name the skills of change, most would mention certain openness to new ideas and realities, certain flexibility, a willingness to try something different, to be different in some way. And they would be right: openness and flexibility are certainly prerequisites. But they are insufficient. Here we will be looking at what I would call the "deep skills" of dealing with change. I invite you to ask yourself, "Am I good at this? Can I think of some recent time when I exhibited this skill? Or a time when I needed this skill, and didn't have it? How could I get better at this? How could my organization get better at this?" The 18 skills of change:

 Anamnesis: The skill of keeping touch with what is deep and constant in the midst of change. The martial artist would call this "keeping base." We might call it "not forgetting who you really are." This allows you to maintain your balance and keep contact with your true goals. The question, for individuals, families and organizations, is: What are your deepest values? How do those deep values inform the way you react to change?  Listening: The skill of truly hearing the other: your spouse; the most bitter, dug-in, resistant people in your organization; the other half of a racially divided community; or the part of yourself that you are spending enormous energy trying to ignore. Change often is expressed most directly in your relationships to people around you. All by itself, listening is one of the most powerful tools of change. We are not talking here of listening passively, with an occasional encouraging grunt. We are talking about listening actively, asking questions, telling the other what you think you are hearing and asking them to correct you, with no argument and no agenda, truly no agenda other than to deeply understand this person. Think of it as being teachable. Think of it as interviewing. How do you know when you have listened enough? When the other person feels that you have heard them, and can say so. This allows you to understand the other, and often to discharge much of the negative energy on the other side. The question here is: What can you do that you have not done to truly understand the other?  Joining: The skill of temporarily experiencing the world from the other's point of view. This is expressed in the American proverb, "Walk a mile in my shoes." The martial artist would call it, "blending," moving with the oncoming blow and matching its speed. The psychologist or hypnotherapist might call it "pacing the other's reality," temporarily drawing out and amplifying the client's view of the world. You can do this even if your world view is completely opposite, and you can do it without ever pretending that you have dropped or forgotten your own truths. It is temporary, but it only has power if it is complete, if for at least that moment you have immersed yourself in the world view of the other. This could be physical: actually putting on the clothes of the other side, doing their job for a day. It might be educational: reading all the literature that the other side reads, studying their arguments and their decisions. It might be purely mental, and it could take mere seconds: as you sit down in a meeting with someone, imagining for a few moments that you are them, coming to meet with you. This allows you not only to understand the change with which you are dealing, but to find a point of leverage, which is often the point of common ground. The question here is: What can you do that is temporary but complete, to become the other, the person or force that represents the change you are facing?  Penetrating: The skill of seeing that the presenting symptom is often not the real problem. The presenting symptoms might be a bump on the head, an enlarged pupil, and lethargy indicating possible concussion, the next layer is an abusive husband and alcoholism, the layer under that is that the local factory has closed, people are jobless and despondent. Every change

arrives in disguise. The image is one of peeling away the layers of the onion. The martial artist would call this "irimi," or entering: rather than dealing with the club or sword that is about to crash down on his head, he slips past it to deal directly with the opponent's center. This allows you greater leverage for less energy. The question here is: Is the change facing me the real change? What is behind it? And what's behind that? What is the best level at which I can deal with this?  Turning to the outside: The skill of staying out of the way of the change until you can get at it from a better angle. The game is called "whose monkey is this?" The martial artist would call it, "tenkan," or turning to the outside. Confronted with an overwhelming force, he does not try to block it directly, and neither does he run away. Instead, he maintains contact with the attacker, but steps to one side, maneuvering to find a point of greater leverage. Stepping out of the direct path of the change allows you more options. The question here is: What options do I have besides resisting this change?  Big vision: The skill of seeing the forest. The martial artist, who keeps his head down, focusing on the technique he is doing at the moment, will likely get clobbered by the next attacker. The manager who keeps her nose to the grindstone, focusing all her energy on today's topic one - say, a reorganization - is likely to miss the political opposition, change in rules, or new competition with the potential to take the whole enterprise out of the game. Wider scanning buys you time. The question here is: What am I missing? What assumptions am I making about the basis of the political and economic support of my organization, about the foundations of my family, or about my health, or the soundness of my job?  Hang time: The willingness to stay in the moment of ambiguity. Change is scary. Most people want to get it over with, to get to the end. We experience a tremendous pressure, from our peers and subordinates, and from deep within ourselves, to get to a resolution, to get things settled down. Yet timing is important in everything from soufflés to civil rights. President Lyndon Johnson had long held a deep desire to do something about race relations in the United States. But he waited until external events had pushed the public to a fever pitch, demanding action, before he The question here is not How soon can I get through this?" The question is When the best moment to act is?" introduced the landmark legislation that became the Civil Rights Act of 964.  Similarly, the new mayor of San Francisco, Willie Brown, is known as the type who can get anything done with amazing speed. He had promised to convene a summit meeting on homelessness. But as the date for the summit approached, he found that everyone - business, neighborhood leaders, homeless activists - expected him to do something about the problem, but it had to be their way. They had no consensus on their definition of "the

problem." So he canceled the meeting, and told the public why. He was roundly criticized, yet the tactic will likely succeed - by increasing the pressure on the various groups involved to come up with creative solutions that everyone can back. Executives are particularly handicapped in their sense of timing by a management culture that equates speed with decisiveness, and delay with increased costs, lost opportunity, and loss of control. As ex-Apple CEO John Sculley has put it, "When most companies are confronted with problems, they try simply to fix them." In that climate, a tremendous advantage accrues to the player who is most willing to just hang out with the problem. The reality is that there is a right time to move, and that time is rarely "as soon as possible." Sometimes the right time to move is "as late as possible." The question here is not "How soon can I get through this?" The question is, "When is the best moment to act?"  Wholeness: The ability for an organization, an individual, or a community to move as one. We might call this "integrity." The martial artist might talk about "uprightness" or "balance." This is not typical. More commonly, when we move, we move disjointedly. We make decisions without involving the people affected by the decisions. We leave troublesome people out of the information loop. We make a decision, then look for a magic wand that will get people to "buy in" to it. People react to the change out of fear, since they had no information and no voice. Wholeness allows you to move with tremendous speed when the time comes to move. The question here is, "What would this organization look like if it were more whole? What can I do differently to help that happen? What are the origins of the splits in the organization - between the suits and the hands-on people, between different specialties and departments, different levels of training, and so on? What can we do to heal them?"  Knowledge: The understanding of how change works. Dealing with change takes training. It takes study, in subjects like chaos theory, family dynamics, communications theory, systems theory, and psychology. And it takes experience-based training aimed at cultivating the abilities of the true change master. You cannot deal with change successfully without changing yourself. The abilities of the change master are not superficial, like a better golf stroke. To master change, we must become different at the deepest level. The question here is, "What can I learn that would make me better at dealing with change?" The clue is: choose what is hardest for you - that is your true path.  Aligning the center: The skill of lining up who you are with what you do every day - the decisions you make, how you spend your time, what you offer to people. We have heard for years about "aligning incentives," a phrase that usually means making sure the employees make money, rather than lose money, doing what the organization wants them to do. But the alignment you need within the organization, and between yourself and the organization, goes deeper than money. It goes, in fact, to your deepest values, to who you are in your essence. Find the interplay between your agenda and the organization's needs, the intersection, the place where

those goals line up. Look at what you do did today, and what you plan to do tomorrow: how many of these tasks proceed from your deepest values? How do they promote what you believe in? Building the tasks of each day from your deepest values, from there to your long-term goals, then to intermediate goals, and finally to how you are spending your time today, allows you to bring all your energies to the task at hand. The question here is: "How do the things I am doing today express my deepest values? How does what I am asking my subordinates or team members to do align with their deepest values?"  Rhythm: The skill of knowing when to move. We might call it, "Picking your battles." The martial artist will think of it as, for instance, making no attempt to throw the opponent until his energy has been destabilized. In its dark phase, this skill is called being opportunistic. As Kenny Rogers' song "The Gambler" says, "You got to know when to hold, `em, know when to fold `em, know when to walk away, know when to run." In the midst of turbulence, we have an agenda, a direction we want to go. For the martial artist, it might be "to stay safe, upright, and free to move." For you, it might be "to increase the teamwork of my organization," "to get the people in my family to really talk to each other," or "to learn how to operate from desire instead of from fear." Offering a plan for quality improvement and lower cost will not work if the people in your organization are not feeling the pinch of competition, and have not yet seen how they could do it. When they have seen other people do it, they will be eager to try it themselves. Until then, no amount of jawboning, coercion or "incentivizing" will be enough. This allows you greater effect for less effort. The question here is: "Is this the right moment? Have the forces I am struggling with been destabilized? Am I meeting them head-on, or at the moment when they can be toppled with a finger?"  Zanshin: the skill of sustaining relationships. To a martial artist, this is "unbroken focus," being aware of all opponents while throwing one, staying connected to the opponent in between moments of crisis. A brittle manager deals with what is in front of her, the disaster of the hour, the urgency forced on her by outside forces. The change master keeps in touch with people who have nothing to do with the problem of the moment, just to stay connected, to spread the net wider, to keep the sensory channels open. Jeff Katzenberg, in his years as a studio head at Disney, is said to have often made several hundred phone calls in a day, often only a minute or two long, just to check in with people and see how things were going. Sustaining relationships strengthens your network before you need it, gives you an "early warning system," and generates ideas you could never have thought up yourself. The question here is, "Who am I talking to these days? Who could I call?"  Shifting Focus: The skill of rapidly and cleanly shifting focus, being fully present with what is in front of you, and able to fully set aside what is not the present task. Whatever you do, even if your job has not changed, in many ways you are no longer in the same business you were in five years

ago. You may find yourself changing hats from manager to student to customer to team member to organizer. Your roles and tasks may shift from one month to the next, or even hour to hour. The flip side of zanshin is the ability to be totally present with what you are doing, then letting go of it in order to be completely present for the next task. This allows you to bring all your energy to what is in front of you. The question here is: "Am I, for this moment, completely absorbed in this task, this person, this process, with a settled mind and focused intent?" Acting in uncertainty: The skill of being able to move with insufficient data. You never have enough information. That's part of the nature of being an executive - or a human. Obviously, you want as much data as possible to confirm your judgment and give you feedback. Yet often you must make a decision with imperfect information, or you risk losing the moment. This skill allows you to move when the moment is right, even when the information is cloudy and incomplete. The question here is: "Which way would I move if I had to move right now? Is this the time to move?" High overwhelm quotient: The willingness to take on "too much." The quote here is from Bokonon, a character in the Kurt Vonnegut novel Cat's Cradle: "Unusual travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." Is keeping things in your comfort range a goal for you? Comfort is the enemy of skill, alertness, and energy. If you want to get good at handling change, you need regular practice. Deliberately pushing your envelope (dreaming up new projects, saying yes to the next change suggestion that comes your way) allows you to exercise your skills in place and time that you choose, before you need them on a schedule chosen by the wind and the trickster devils of change. Internal Drive: The skill of finding joy in the doing, not just in the result. Change is a long, bumpy, aggravating road, with a lot of detours, changed destinations, and stops for repairs. If you don't love the journey itself, you will not be able to push on. You will burn out waiting for that great moment of victory, the one that never quite comes. If you are attached to the outcome, what will you do when you have to change your mind? Are you bent on the destination, or the journey? Surfers don't do all that work just to get to the shore. They're interested in the ride. Being driven internally, by your own joy in the work, by the powerful turbines of your own deepest values, allows you stay the course when outside incentives - money, praise, and reputation - would not be enough. The question is: "How does doing this give me joy?" Capacity for Paradox: The skill of entertaining two opposing ideas at the same time, as the raftsman maintains his balance in the midst of the rushing river - not because of the river or in spite of the river, but with it. Here as elsewhere, the answer is not in the answer, but in the question. Confronted with two opposite ideas (for instance, better outcomes and lower budgets), tradition and training push us to resolve the paradox immediately. We feel we can't go any further without deciding which idea will be the guide. Circumstances often force us to hang out in the paradox,

sometimes for years, all the time wondering which side will win out. The answer is in the question: sometimes the only lasting way to cut costs is to increase quality. The ability to milk paradox allows us to find solutions that are "outside the box." The question here is: "What would happen if I did not try to resolve this, but just let it be a paradox?"  Market sense: The skill of finding the opportunity in the crisis. Every change creates new markets, new needs. It shifts the status quo and creates gaps. The brittle manager only sees the change, the crisis. The change master sees the newly-opened market. What was a looming disaster through one lens becomes, through another lens, an opportunity. The skill of seeing opportunity in change allows you to gather energy, resources, and capital from change as it occurs, rather than wasting them in resisting it. The question here is: "What need does this change create? How would filling that need further my agenda?"

These are not easy skills to acquire, if they are not a natural part of your toolkit already. You can't pick them up in a few hours at a conference, or by reading a few books. There is no correspondence course. Re-organizing yourself for change is less like a Berlitz language class and more like a life path. Refitting your organization for change is not a matter of "Get me a new corporate culture while you are up." It calls for a long-term passionate commitment to becoming a learning organization, and a willingness on the part of everyone in management to follow that path even when it gets uncomfortable, difficult, and surprising. In the end, you do not have a choice. Brittle organizations, and brittle managers, will not survive these times. Together, these skills form a way of seeing the world, a way of being, that is profoundly different from the conventional skills of a manager in a slow-moving organization in an evolving industry. But they are the same skills that we need to be good parents, mates, citizens - and good humans - in a fluid world of dazzling and frustrating change.

Where We Can Learn About Change

How can you learn the skills of change? For these are deep skills, and this is a lifelong path. If you find a book
titled Sixty-Second Change Master, or The Idiot's Guide to Change, pull yourself up gently by your tie and give yourself a reality check: does this seem like something with three easy steps, or six, or 10? There is no quick way. No one web site, or even one book, no single visit from a consultant or speaker, can teach you and your organization how to find and use the power of change. Yet for many of us, the need to learn these skills is immediate, sandwiched in with the need to learn more organizational skills, keep up with new technologies, build a whole new expertise in information sciences, become expert in the complexities of compensation, master contracting law -- the list seems endless. It's a long path, there is no time, and the need is immediate, so where do you start? These are a few of my favorite resources that you might find useful in the struggle to become adept at dealing with change. This is my list, what I have discovered looking through my particular lens. We all develop, over time, our own personal strategies for dealing with change. There is a saying: "Many paths, one mountain." As you move further on your path, as an individual and as a leader in an organization, you may well find other resources that excite your passion, teach you something, give you new eyes. I would love to hear about them. Until then, here are some of the resources that I have noticed. If you would like to enter more deeply into this universe of thought with me, try out some of my favorite sources: Ourselves We are our own best teachers. For learning about change, the resources within ourselves lie in confusion and failure. We all crave clarity, yet our clarity about what we know can blind us. Until we are willing to be confused about what we feel we know -- willing to distance ourselves, at least temporarily, from our certainty -- we have no hope of learning anything further, larger, different, more. We all strive for success, and I would not wish failure on anyone. But we all do fail. If we are honest with ourselves, we fail quite often -- we make a bad decision, or end up crosswise with our spouse, instead of just listening. These failures are all about us, and they are exquisite teaching devices equipped with industrial-strength memory aids. When I fail, I have a powerful impulse to distance myself from the failure -- tell myself all the ways it which it was not my fault, mention it to no one, "put it

behind me," as the PR folks say. But it does me no good behind me. It is full of information, exactly tailored to me, because it is my failure, no one else's. If I am not to be doomed to committing the same mistake over and over, I must put my failure beside me, sit it down in a comfortable chair, bring it a cup of coffee, and pump it for every bit of information that it can bring me about how I failed, and how I can do better. Personal practices It is not possible to change your organization without changing yourself. If you change yourself, you will change your organization. The two are inextricably linked. If you seriously intend to help your organization go through the massive changes of the coming years, you must set out on a path of changing your own life, of learning the skills of change and applying them first to yourself. There are many retreats, seminars and workshops available, from the New Warrior movement to religious retreats. Look for that place of balance between comfort and challenge. A nice comfortable retreat might be refreshing, but it will change nothing. One of the earliest and most important parts of any program of personal change is setting the agenda for your own personal future by bringing to the table all your hopes for the future, your beliefs and assumptions, your values and goals -- the rudder you put your hand on when you step back into anamnesis in the midst of turbulence. Some very useful seminars are built around this fundamental skill of surfacing your deepest values and changing your life to pursue them. The best of them include the Franklin Quest seminars (put on by the people who make the Franklin Planner date books, at 1-800-8191776), and the Covey Leadership Center's "First Things First" seminars (1 800 680 6839 or international 001 1 801 377 1888). Any change is, in part, physical. You can understand it in your head, but until it lives in your body, it won't change your behavior. If you wish to be different, you must learn to move differently, to make different physical decisions. What works for me is a martial art called Aikido, which effectively maps many of the deepest principles of dealing with change into physical movements dealing with attackers. Look in the phone book under "Martial Arts" or under "Karate, Judo, and other martial arts." Of course, I also have a list of favorite books that you might like as well. Mastering change is a long process, but unlike building a cathedral or growing apples, as soon as you start you will have something that you can use Ñ some insight, a different way of looking at what is confronting you, something to help jar you to a more creative strategy.

Touching what is, Touching what might be
The Magus

Open a deck of Tarot cards. You'll see two kinds: the
Lesser Arcanum, a set of 56 cards in four suits that roughly corresponds to the modern deck of playing cards, and the 22 cards of the Greater Arcanum, each a one-of-a-kind symbol, considered far more powerful than the Lesser Arcanum. Card One of the Greater Arcanum is the Magus, or Magician, shown traditionally standing before a table laden with ritual objects, with one hand stretched upward, the other pointing down. He is the touch point between what is and what might be, between grounding and dreams, between heaven and earth. On a martial practice mat, an attacker grabs the defender's hands, trying to keep her from drawing her weapons. Rather than resist the grab directly, she steps gently to one side while she lifts one hand skyward and plunges the other toward the floor in the move known as tenchi nage, the heaven-and-earth throw. This double connection repeats throughout world mythic literature -- and it is fundamental to understanding change.

To make use of its power we first have to touch it. To make use of the power living inside any new thing that comes our way, we first have to touch it -- not tentatively but profoundly -- at the same time that we maintain a firm connection with that which is deepest and most fundamental within ourselves. Again, imagine the martial metaphor, two fighters in hand-to-hand combat. The attacker is most dangerous when he is about arms-length away (or further, if he has a baton or a staff) -- near enough to hit me, but far enough to get a good swing. I will be safer if I can keep him at mai-ai, far enough away that he can't hit me. But it's hard to keep him out, and at that distance, I can't do anything to him, either, nor can I make him stop his attack.

But there is another position of safety that is far more powerful, the position some teachers call "bumping belts" -- getting so close to the attacker that there is no space between us at all, for at least a moment. The attacker has no room to swing, and my movements powerfully influence his. I have great leverage. From this position I can do many things, using the power of his attack to end the danger. Many touch points What does this look like in an organization dealing with some change? It means creating a wide variety of touch points between ourselves and the change we are facing. Let's take an organization that has realized at the board and executive level that it needs greater diversity on its staff. This might be in response to outside demands, to changes in regulations, as a settlement to a suit, as a response to changing demographics, or simply by a change in the organization's own awareness. Organizations often look on such a need as a single demand, such as a demand for a change in hiring policies. But in fact there are many ways to approach it -- through neutral hiring policies, through new kinds of outreach in recruiting programs, through marketing and promotion that creates a stronger presence in different ethnic communities, through staff training focused on greater intercultural sensitivity, even through such simple things as the public celebration of different cultures' holidays, and charity projects that reach into different ethnic communities. Making a wide array of responses to a problem gives the organization full contact with it, and draws the organization into full understanding of the problem. Most importantly, it creates a wide array of options, giving the organization the possibility of a flexible response that changes and shifts as conditions change. New technology provides another example. We often encounter the question in reaction to a sales pitch: a vendor has proposed some new system. But to answer the vendor's proposal with a yes or a no is to approach a change that is undoubtedly headed our way -- new technology -- through a single touch point. Once it has become a yes/no question, it easily -- in fact, usually -- becomes a question with only one answer ("If I don't accept new technology I am doomed.") for which you could end up paying almost any price. You can change the nature of the new technology question by creating a number of touch points. Invite in other vendors to give presentations and proffer proposals. Set up study teams to search for and evaluate new technologies. Study the existing technological system into which these new technologies have to fit. Begin a board discussion of the capital needed for technological expansion and renovation, and the implications of those capital needs in terms of possible partnerships, alliances, mergers, acquisitions, and other strategic moves. This moves you closer to the center of the change, but

moves the center of gravity of the question back to you. It puts you and your organization in charge, rather than in reaction to vendors, and creates an array of options. Ask A key tactic in creating a variety of touch points is quite simple: ask a lot of questions. Ask especially the questions that have difficult answers, or for which you suspect there is no answer. As leaders of organizations, we often spend much of our time talking -- instructing, cajoling, giving others our vision, trying to get others to understand. Asking questions, and listening fully to the answers, interviewing people, can be a powerful technique of leadership, and a powerful tactic for bringing change up close where we can grapple with it. We can learn not only from the answers we discover, but also from what information is not available. You might learn, for instance, that the vendor has no consistent upgrade strategy, or no plans for networking the equipment, or is out of step with the movement toward industry standards. The flip side of this is also true: sharing information. One of the five fundamentals of dealing with change is an abundance of information. Asking questions is designed to get more information. Giving away information is designed to make it easier for others to work with you on change, and to break the informational logjam. It is useful to ask yourself: what is the unsayable truth at the core of this challenge? In trying to create more diversity, for instance, the unsayable truth might be that the people already in the organization are afraid of losing power to newcomers - or even their jobs. Or that embracing different cultures makes What is the unsayable truth? people feel out of control, aliens in their own work place. In looking at new technology, the unsayable truth may be that people fear that the onrush of technology will make it impossible for the institution to continue to exist in the same form. Or that they are right: the capital requirements may be too much, or the possibilities of the new technologies, combined with cost-cutting pressures, may make new types of organizations more effective than the one you have now. These unsayable truths, brought to daylight, have enormous power. It is in fact, only by wrestling with these deep realities that the organization will be able to move forward. The act of bringing these realities to the surface automatically creates a range of touch points between your organization and the change it is facing. Repeat

Expect repetition. Dealing with change is an iterative process. When you are effective in bringing the organization close to the change, and creating an array of touch points, some solutions will arise -- new policies, purchases, markets -- to make you more effective in that particular area. Are you done? You are not done. Dealing with that level allows and encourages the next level to come to the fore. And the next level is likely to be more complex, deeper, more interesting in ways both good and bad. In fact, we are never done with any change. We keep working it through until it becomes part of some other change, as waves on the ocean become part of other waves. The "new imaging technology" question becomes part of the "new networked technologies" question, which gets absorbed into the "capital requirements" question, which re-asserts itself as the "strategic futures" question. The endlessness of this process can lead to insanity or wisdom. Touching bottom So if one hand is reaching out toward what is new, toward change and transformation, drawing it close, making many points of contact with it -- what of the other hand, the hand that is dropping toward earth? This is the hand of grounding, of knowing who you are and why you are there, of the story that the organization holds in common. We speak of "touching bottom," of coming to what is irreducibly our own. Medieval Christian mystics spoke of "anamnesis," the end of forgetting, the remembering of all that is most deep and constant. For each of us personally, anamnesis is about our deepest values and attachments -- children, a mate, the values of love, integrity, our connection to the Divine. Professionally, anamnesis means rediscovering constantly our real reasons for being in the profession we have chosen -- whatever brought us to this position, with this knowledge and these skills. As an organization, anamnesis means remembering our true mission, beyond mere survival, providing jobs, repaying the bondholders, keeping the share price up. Why did we bother to create this institution in the first place? Why do we put so much effort into re-creating it day by day? If I as a professional and we as an organization do not carry along a profound sense of these ancient values to every negotiation with change, then the power of these changes will sweep us away. We will have abandoned what we stood for, who we served, and all those who have helped us. Paradox within paradox It is a paradox: embrace change, keep your base. Be rooted in the past, engage the future. Yet there is another paradox within the paradox. Our values, our sense of who we are, can act as an anchor holding us back, rather than as a

safety tether. Ideally, having a deep sense of who we are should allow us to explore deeply and confidently. More often, like the circus elephant's short ankle chain, linked to a huge stake driven deep in the ground, it prevents us from exploring: "This is the kind of person I am. I can't change." Or it limits our exploration; as soon as we have taken a single step we stop to pat ourselves on the back, take a break, and figure out whether maybe this is far enough: "Look how far I have gone, aren't I a hero of change?" To truly master change, we have to master the paradox of changing while staying grounded, of changing the more deeply and readily the more grounded we are.

The Paradoxes of Change
I am writing this in a hotel room in Sydney, Australia, near the Sydney Opera House, in the historic district called The Rocks. The room is a modern one, perhaps 10
years old at most, with everything from cable TV to modem ports. Yet parts of the hotel date back a century and a quarter, with the modern facade neatly dovetailed between the stone foundations and brick walls of two older buildings, new and old forming a pleasing aesthetic whole. This turns out to be a common method of building, not only throughout the Rocks, but all through the nearby downtown district of this thriving city of over 3 million people -- old facades are hollowed out, with a high-rise reinterpreting the architecture of the old building, rising above and behind it. New buildings sprout from the old. Other buildings soar over or nestle around the old ones that preceded them, and many old buildings have been renovated, expanded, and given new uses. It is as if the city refuses to choose between change and staying the same, but embraces the paradox, changing and growing without losing its sense of what it is, what land and history and people it has grown from. Paradox is the place of insight. We talked last time about the paradox of reaching for the new without losing your ground in the old. Paradox is the place of insight. Accepting paradox, not as a momentary distraction but as a place to live, lies at the heart of dealing successfully with

change. We can see this most clearly if we ask ourselves, "What business am I in? What am I about?" For many, this did not used to be a meaningful question. Today it is a critical one. The art and science of business management has fads and fashions as seductive and compelling as children's taste in toys. The cry of the `70s was "diversify." Harold Geneen's ITT swallowed the Sheraton hotel chain, American cake-maker Sara Lee bought an Australian sportswear company, Sears bought the Coldwell Banker real estate company, a tobacco company engorged a food company and transmogrified into RJR Nabisco, all in search of spreading risk across different industries and sectors and searching for magical "synergies" that would make the whole more than its constituent parts. The underlying assumption was that all businesses are fundamentally alike, that the skill of running one business is the skill to run any business. It was an assumption much touted by people who learned their business skills in business schools. Sometimes it worked. More often the synergies turned out to be more mythical than magical, and people expended enormous amounts of energy, and made huge mistakes, trying to manage businesses that they knew nothing about. It turned out that time in the field mattered. It turned out that there are some things about real estate that are inescapably different from retail or arbitrage, or publishing elementary school texts -- and the differences, the localness of each business, the instincts of each trade, were not things you could learn in school. You had to learn them from experience. Time in the field mattered. So American business dropped the diversification fad, and a new cry arose: "Stick to your knitting," that is, put your bets on doing what you really know how to do better than anyone else. Leave the rest to someone else. In the mid1980s, Marriott, for instance, realized that it was very good at running hotels, but it also owned and managed billions of dollars of real estate around the world -- so it sold most of its properties and leased them back from the new owners. It pulled its money out of real estate equity and put it into expanding its hotel business -- what it does best. "Stick to your knitting," turns out to be a useful thought for dealing with change -- don't get seduced by novelty into attempting to do things for which you have no skill. And yet . . . and yet. Let's search for the paradoxical insight here. At the core of every truth is a fallacy, a route to a deeper truth. The fallacy at the core of

"stick to your knitting" is the invitation not to change, to stay satisfied with the way we are. Many of us have a grudging acceptance of the need to change. As one friend expressed it, "If it turns out I really have to change, I'll change." This seems a comforting thought, and it seems sufficient. But the reality is that every change is a new skill, one that takes time and attention to learn. If I wait to change until I am forced to it, I will be too late. To wait until change is forced on me is to stay perpetually behind on the learning curve. On the other hand, if I change with every passing breeze, take up every fad, I exhaust my energies. I am perpetually the beginner, never the master of anything. This is the mistake of diversifying for its own sake. So I know I need to change. But how do I know in what direction? There are many ways to find out the answer to that question: assessing the marketplace, surveying new technologies, following industry trends, running competitive scenarios. But let me suggest another way to the answer, There is a way rooted in paradox. a way rooted in paradox Wendy Palmer, one of my senseis (teachers) in Aikido, expressed it this way one evening: "What is hard for you," she said, "is your path." It struck me that I had heard the same thing a few nights before from a writer whose fiction I greatly admire, Thaisa Frank: "You find your craft by doing the things that are the most difficult." You might be great at characterization, say, but have little feel for plot. Exploring the mechanics of building great plots would not only be good discipline, it would the most powerful thing you could do to develop the craft that is truly your own. As Palmer explained it, we all have our favorite moves, the ones that really work for us. The temptation is to play it safe by repeating those moves over and over, and seeking out the situations where they work best. But to really develop, we have to do the opposite -- we have to seek out the situations that are the most difficult for us, work them through, hang out with them long enough to begin to be at home in the paradoxical, ambiguous, and strange circumstance. This is much like the dilemma of the antelope. When lions hunt antelopes, the pride's dominant male stays where he is, while the female lions -- the real hunters, swifter than the male -- sneak around to the far side of the herd, fan out in a wide semi-circle, and lie down in the grass. The dominant male, bigger but slower, really incapable of catching the antelope by himself, takes on the

job of suddenly leaping up and roaring at the antelope. He's good at it. The antelope bolt from him -- and run straight into the trap laid by the waiting females. For the antelope, salvation would lie in running toward the roar, in deliberately picking out the thing that is most terrifying, and moving toward the source of the fear. No antelope has ever been known to do that. Very few humans can, either -- but they are the only ones who can learn to deal with the change that they fear. In this way, What you fear becomes a useful marker. What you fear -- what you or your family or your organization instinctually avoids -- becomes a useful marker of the direction of the most powerful change that you could encounter. Perhaps your organization, as a whole, has a great reputation. Perhaps at the same time you know that your quality statistics are not the best that your practices must improve. So in today's competition you must lead with your competitive advantage -- your reputation. But if you want to last more than the present quarter and the present year, you must pour energy into your weakest point, the arduous task of improving quality. Perhaps your greatest competitive strength is a relatively strong financial situation, with good margins and sizable reserves -- but your greatest weakness is an information infrastructure that is ten years old, that does not meet the demands of integration, of cost-cutting, of new styles of decision-making. For you and your organization, this is a place of fear and confusion, and you naturally turn from it and put your energy into what you are good at. In the short run, the safest tactic would be to save your reserves to defend against competitive attack. But to survive in the long term, you can't hold back the reserves. You must use your strong financial position to re-build your infrastructure. You must run toward the roar. This paradox -- my fears as a guide to change -- is at least as vivid at home. What do I fear most? Deeply committing myself to my mate? Expressing my emotions, even the graceless ones? Learning to hear without judgment? That's the direction in which I will find the most powerful engine of change. Whom in my family do I fear most? With whom do I fear having the deep conversation? Whether they know it or not, they will be my most powerful teachers of change.

If there is any urge that can be called a true "instinct," it is the instinct for order, for imposing patterns on the sensory chaos that confronts us at every turn. We have a deep and strong desire to make sense of the world -- indeed, we have to if we hope to survive. Logic and mental order are the power tools of conventional decision-making. But they are less useful in dealing with change. Confronted with new circumstances, we must do more than narrow the possibilities. We must generate new thoughts. We must be creative. And we must do that not just once but repeatedly and continually. We must live in the paradox.

Heading for the Open Space
Let me call up an image from another article in this series: The deep bellow of the male lion shatters the still of the African night, and the antelopes run, terrified -- straight into the jaws of the female lions waiting silently in the tall grass. The safer choice would have been the paradoxical one; the one antelopes never take, to run toward the roar. Paradox, it turns out, is the place of insight, of generating new thoughts. The answer to the question, "If I must change, how do I know in which direction?" can sometimes be found in paradox: Do what you most fear. Run toward the roar. The places of weakness are the places of the greatest potential growth. Maintain your present strength, but pour your energy into whatever you instinctually avoid. That was using paradox to look inward. Looking outward, we get another answer: go toward open space. This is a market-oriented answer. The temptation of the market is to make decisions like a herd animal, to seek safety by doing what everyone else is doing. If everyone is beavering away building partnerships, then find a partner, quick. If everyone is restructuring, better restructure. But we're not new at this. We've been in this turbulence for years now. Look back over the last decade and ask yourself: Of all those things that everyone else was doing that seemed so white-knuckle critical at the time, how many of them worked out? Total Quality turned out to be extremely valuable -- and maybe 23 times harder and slower than anybody ever told you it would be. That partner your organization was slavering after turned out to have a whole different definition of the market than you did, and amazing resistance to innovation -- maybe you should have spent a little more time before rushing into that one. That brilliant marketing plan that took you a year to work out with three partners ran into a brick wall of consumer resistance -- something nobody had thought to research beforehand.

It's possible that "Follow The Other Guy" is not the golden road to transformation. It's possible that "Follow the Other Guy" is not the golden road to transformation. In fact, the three questions that are most helpful in deciding your path, as a person or an organization, lie almost completely in the other direction: 1) "What am I really good at?" (Play to your strengths.) 2) "What am I afraid of?" (Run toward the roar) 3) "What is no one else doing?" (Head for the open space.) Heading for the open space means looking for the hole in the market, searching for what no one else is doing. That roaring you hear may be the voice of the customer. Take the Internet. The array of Internet technologies is mushrooming. Communication standards and security solutions are developing rapidly. The number of people who can access the net either at work, at school, or at home is rising swiftly. WebTV and other cheap access methods are showing up. All this means that Internet technologies are likely to be able to add value, lower costs, and increase quality in a wide variety of ways -- not only between the organization and the consumer, but between the organization and its buyers, its vendors, its partners, its professionals, and the industry as a whole -- over the coming decade. Some industries, as well as some organizations in all industries, have made great strides in using the Internet for efficiency and quality. Yet others are hanging back. Many leaders understand the potential of the Internet, yet have done nothing significant to realize this potential. Almost every organization has email and some kind of web site -- that was the herd instinct at work -- but only a few have worked out an Internet strategy to take full advantage of the whole array of technologies. Most actually restrict access to the net inside the organization. There are many reasons for this, including security concerns, concerns about reliability in mission-critical areas, and deep investment in legacy technology that has no way to connect to the net. But here's the market point: such techno-bashfulness is rapidly creating a huge open space. Organizations that step forward into that space by investing fully in Internet solutions are likely to create a competitive advantage over those that do not. And that advantage is likely to widen, rather than narrow, as time goes by. Adopting a technology is not like adopting a new marketing program or building a new building. Even if

much of the actual plumbing is outsourced, making the strategic decisions and managing their implementation requires building up institutional capacity and institutional memory. It requires making mistakes and learning from them. Typically, in a technology race, those who start first tend to stay ahead.

The middle of the pack is a place of helplessness. Going for the open space is a risk. It's scary. Being in the middle of the pack feels safe -- but it's only safe if the rest of the pack is your allies. If they are your competitors, the middle of the pack is a place of helplessness. The middle of the pack controls no one. Get out in front of the pack, either as leader or quarry, and you have a measure of control. How does the quarry control the pack that is hunting it? By choosing the terrain, choosing the ground on which the chase will take place. That's why most dogs, most of the time, come back with no rabbit. Think about pricing in healthcare, for instance. Who controls pricing in a region? The low-cost supplier, not the average one. Everyone else has to deal with the fact that Joe Doaks Memorial Medical Center is selling brain transplants for a dollar three-eighty. Who sets the bar for quality in a region? The highest-quality provider, not the average one. If people call your Valley Community Hospital "Death Valley" behind its back, and someone else in town has captured the public image of Great Shining Temple of Medicine, you've got a problem. The low-cost provider and the high-quality provider have gone for the open space at the end of the cost and quality continuum. They each offer something definite and unique to buyers. They have each staked out a territory that no one else occupies. In a sense, they have no competitors. If quality and cost run together -- if the high-quality provider is high-cost, and the low-cost provider is perceived to be low quality -- then perhaps everyone else in town can find a comfortable spot on the quality/cost continuum. But often the opposite is true. High cost is sometimes dictated by producing the highest quality. Just as often it is dictated by sloppy processes -- which also lead to low quality, which further leads to high costs. In any industry in which that is true, it is possible for one organization to capture both open spaces -highest quality and lowest cost -- and simply collapse the marketing continuum between them. If that isn't you, you're in trouble. Heading for that open space -- whether it's the end of the cost-quality continuum, or finding a niche no one else is occupying, or identifying particular populations to market -- is scary. Whatever I am wrestling with is me.

Yet there is a magical reflective quality to taking on a challenge. In a way, the actual nature of the challenge is arbitrary. Whatever I am wrestling with is me. If I choose not to wrestle, I learn nothing about myself. If I choose to wrestle, I learn my true nature, whatever it is that I wrestle with. An organization that takes on no challenges -- even if it is top of the heap, perfect, nobody has any complaints about it -- learns nothing, and has no skill at transforming itself when the challenge suddenly shows up. When you head for that open space, by definition you are doing something for which you don't have a lot of examples, something at which you don't have a lot of practice. You will make some mistakes. I think of a sentence I have heard three times, with slight variations, on the martial arts mat, from a Wall Street trader, and from an organizational executive: "If it works every time, you're not trying hard enough." If you know exactly what you are doing, if you could do this in your sleep, if you could mail in your performance, that's great in walking a mail route. It's not great in running an organization trying to survive in the midst of turbulent change. In a changing environment you must be protean. You must transform yourself rapidly, intelligently, purposefully, and constantly. As Bob Dylan put it. "He not busy being born is busy dying." The true risk lies, in fact, in not changing. The true risk lies in the middle of the pack, galloping headlong over the veldt through the hot darkness into the jaws of the waiting lions.

Habits of mind for turbulent times
Are these tough times? Let's put it this way: Many people I know in the late 1990s sleep like babies -- they wake up every two hours and cry. I'm writing this in a lovely, capacious
beachside suite at the Amelia Island Plantation in Florida. Fate, disguised as an invitation to speak at a conference, has conspired to give me 24 hours in this beautiful spot. And it's raining. It has been raining all day and all night. At the

moment, in fact, lightning is tall-walking the oak scrub forest, and thunder is hammering my rib-cage every few seconds. Where do I file my complaint? My brief time to enjoy this vacation spot is ruined. Do I call the front desk and rant at them: "You tricked me! The photos in the brochure definitely show sunshine, not thunder and lightning." Maybe I would do better to rave at the clouds, standing on the porch and shaking my fist at the sky: "You can't do this to me! Don't you know who I am?" If I was really lucky, that might earn me, like Job, a visitation from the Lord of Thunder, who asked him a pointed question: "Where were you when I fixed the foundations of the deep and wrestled with Leviathan?" More likely, it would earn me a visit from the police. The question the Lord asked Job translates to: Are you in control of this? What power do you have here? Are you in control of this? Do you have influence over this? What power do you have here? We make clear distinctions between what we can control and what we cannot. The rain has ruined my plans for laying on the beach, so I'll stay in and write. I have made all the proper arrangements to get to the airport on time tomorrow. Making the arrangements is under my control. But if the weather delays the plane or closes the airport, I will just call my wife and tell her that I'll be late. Some changes are under my control, some are not, and I simply adapt. Most of us can carry that off just fine. But what about changes other people cause? What if I miss my plane because the driver was late? Or because the travel agent gave me the wrong information? Or because the bellman inexplicably impounded my bags? That would seem to be a completely different matter, cause for some table pounding, a little therapeutic venting, wouldn't it? Why? Do I have any more control over the work habits of a tram driver in Florida I have never met before than I do over the weather? Yet when a human being causes us to have to change our plans, maybe in a way that is harder, less fun, more expensive, or even more dangerous, we tend to direct our basic emotional response toward that person: They could have done that differently. They caused this problem. It's their fault.

And too often we hurry right on to the next stage, the assumption that says: They are doing this to me. Or: This is happening to me because of my shortcomings. These emotional reactions get in our way. They color our perceptions and drastically reduce our ability to notice what the situation really is, and to plan our best course. Here's the key: It's all weather. Here's the key: It's all weather. Whatever you can't control, no matter who does it or why, is just part of the "weather" where you are right now. How do we treat weather? We try to find out as much as we can about what's coming, but we keep its unpredictability in mind. We prepare for its extremes as wisely as possible. We grieve any losses it causes us, and celebrate the lovely spring days and quiet summer evenings it gives us. And never once do we take it personally, think that the weather is out to get us, or that lousy weather means that somehow we have failed. We just know that it's not personal. What if we dealt with change that way? When corporate headquarters decides to move the department to the other facility across town, when the enthusiasm level for the new Quality Teams hovers in the single digits, when the vendor for the new computer system announces a six-month delay? It's easy to see that these examples are not personal -- they're not aimed at you -- and to see how, with some practice, we could learn to treat them like weather, without anger, with clear eyes and full faculties. But what if it really is personal? What if they really are out to get you? (Remember the saying -- just because But what if they really are out to get you? you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.) What if it really is because of your personal failings? Think about Ronald Reagan. Any president automatically becomes the world's biggest punching bag, and Reagan was no exception. But Reagan was "the Teflon president." No matter what they threw at him, nothing stuck. Why? Because of his attitude. He didn't seem to take anything personally. The most negative response he came up with in election debates was, "Now there you go again," accompanied by a wry smile and a shake of the head. This gave him enormous room to maneuver. What a contrast with Richard Nixon, who took everything personally, dug in, and fought back with everything he had -- and in

the process drew greater attacks and cut off his options. Nixon ended up going over the lines of legality and resigning in disgrace. Reagan became the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to serve two full terms. Reagan did not give power to his enemies by rising to the bait. Don't give your power to the problems of a changing environment. Treat it like weather: maybe you need to fill sandbags, maybe you'll have to relocate the town. But you don't have to waste energy screaming at the river. That's the essential difference between reacting to a situation and responding to it. Reaction shuts down true learning. A tiny child knocked over by a large, playful dog reacts emotionally and imprints the learning: "Dogs are scary and evil." If the same child approached the dog with his mother, in a calm state, he would learn something more complex, such as: "Dogs can be big and scary, but sometimes they're nice and fun to pet." Horse trainers say that a horse that is quick to learn has a "soft mouth," that is, it responds to the tugs of the reins easily and quickly. If I am responsive rather than reactive, if I treat the changes like weather, I will have a "soft mouth," learning easily whatever the situation offers me. Learning to respond instead of react is a two-step process. First I have to alter my perception, and then I have to alter my habits. What happens, and the story about what happens There's what happens, and there's the story I tell myself about what happens. They are not the same. What happened might be: Andersen has asked for a review of the budget for the shipping department. The story I tell myself might be: Andersen is looking for fuel for his campaign to automate the shipping department and lay off half the shipping staff. Maybe later I will find out my story was correct. But if I am to treat the situation like weather, and think it through with all my faculties, I have to make sure that I know that difference between the facts at hand, and the story I am constructing about those facts. Most people, most of the time, live in the story they are telling themselves about the moment, rather than in the moment itself. -- which means that they miss (or misinterpret) any detail that doesn't fit the story line. I am not my acts. I am my habits.

Aristotle put it this way: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is a habit, not an act." Think about how someone becomes a doctor - put yourself into that process for a moment. It isn't just learning the facts, hard as that is. There comes a time when you realize that being a doctor has become a part of you, through long and constant practice. You no longer have to think about it. How did you get there? Through a long period in which you "acted as if" you were a doctor. You put on the white coat and the stethoscope. Perhaps the first time a patient addressed you as "Doctor" you looked over your shoulder to see who else was in the room. Maybe you felt like a bit of a fraud for a while. But over time, the learning, the professional stance, the physician's set of mind, became habitual. They came to you automatically whenever you needed them. If we need new habits of mind to deal with an increasingly turbulent universe, we have to go through the same process. You might pick up new ideas by reading a column like this one, or a book, or by going to a seminar, or through talking with a friend. But knowing an idea is not enough. To make it work in your life, you have to put it on daily like a lab coat, practice "as if" it were really a part of your deep armamentarium -- until one day it is. One day a crisis arises, a problem blows up in your face, a change comes barreling around the corner -- and you handle it with the finesse, power, and subtlety you've been pretending to. I talked to tennis great Arthur Ashe a decade ago. I have always been fascinated by people who achieve true mastery, in whatever area. So I asked him: If he could give one piece of advice to young tennis players -- or to anyone attempting to master something -- what would that advice be?

"Don't try 100 percent. Try 95 percent." - Arthur Ashe He said something that deeply surprised me. He said, "Don't try 100 percent. Try 95 percent." The comment was opaque to me, so I asked him to explain. He said (paraphrasing from memory) that coaches are always telling their charges to "go all out" or "give 110 percent" in the tournaments. But by the time you're in a tournament, whatever you are trying to put out there should be second nature, drilled in by the thousands of hours of practice. Go all out in practice, to make the moves a part of you. Then in the tournament, when it really counts, relax so that those habitual moves can come out.

His comment made me think of that famous scene in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, in which Yoda, the wise ancient pipsqueak Jedi Knight, is telling young Luke Skywalker that he can raise his starship from the swamp it has sunk into by using the Force. Luke says, "I'll try." Yoda says, with his contempt for Luke's attitude barely veiled, "No try. Do or do not. There is no try." As long as we are still "trying," exerting ourselves to use new ways of thinking to deal with change, we will not be effective. Only when we have put them on daily like a lab coat and stethoscope for a long period of time, will they become habits, new, strong, and useful parts of ourselves.

Spinning the Future
You can't predict the future. Nobody has a crystal ball. So how can you think about the future?
How can you best prepare yourself? We have talked in these pages about the habits of mind that work best in rapidly-changing times. If you've been following along in your hymnal, you've begun to get the rhythm: It's all weather. Run for the roar. Seek out paradox. Look for the open space. But what about thinking about the future itself? Is there a better way? At the moment, I am writing a book on the future of China with Peter Schwartz and Jay Ogilvy of the Global Business Network, a think tank with international reach. Ogilvy and Schwartz were formerly researchers at SRI, and Schwartz was later head of global planning for Royal Dutch Shell. In the early 1980s it was Schwartz and two colleagues who caused Shell's top management to ask themselves, "What if oil prices fell drastically?" When oil prices did fall by more than half in 1986, Shell was prepared, and fared far better than the other large oil companies. Ogilvy and Schwartz do not attempt to tell the future. Instead, they tell stories about it. They spin scenarios.

One of the most singular successes of the scenarios process was the part it played in helping to dismantle apartheid. Pierre Wack, the man who brought Schwartz to Shell, retired in the early 1980s. In retirement, he joined a team helping Anglo-American, South Africa's largest company; think about the future -- of South Africa and apartheid. It turned out that one future that few white South Africans had even considered was one in which black South Africans came to dominate the government -- but did not exile the white people, kill them, or confiscate their property. And it turned out that the various black South African cultures showed certain elements, especially a deep appreciation of the value of forgiveness, that made such a scenario plausible. An Anglo-American executive, Clem Sunter, gave a series of speeches around South Africa highlighting the study group's scenarios. The speeches became a book, which became a bestseller -- which ultimately helped persuade President DeKlerk to release Nelson Mandela from prison and begin the process that would dismantle apartheid. Spinning scenarios is a highly sophisticated, singularly useful, and imminently practical way to think about the future. Spinning scenarios is a highly sophisticated, singularly useful, and imminently practical way to think about the future. Yet it is simple enough that you can do it yourself. In fact, Schwartz tells how to do it in a book that you should read: The Art of the Long View (Currency Doubleday 1996). When you spin scenarios, you end up with an array of plausible futures -usually three to five possible stories of how the future will unfold for you, your organization, your community, or whatever you are focusing on. The idea is not to decide which of these tales is right. Rather, the idea is to create an array of plausible futures, and then 1) examine how prepared you are (and how prepared you could be) for each of them, and 2) look for markers that will tell you which of them -- or some other future you had not imagined -- is unfolding. The point of scenario-spinning is to help us "suspend our disbelief" in all possible futures, so that we can see the possibilities with clear eyes. It's a process that works best with other people, especially with other people who don't share your assumptions. Schwartz identifies eight steps in the process. 1) Isolate the decision. Rather than trying to explore the entire future, ask yourself, "What am I trying to decide?" The decision in question might be: "Should we merge with the other guy?" Don't worry too much about whether this is exactly the right question. In the process of exploring whether you should merge with MegaComm, Inc., you might discover that you really should

be asking whether to merge with AstraMeta, Inc., or TechnoBaffle, Inc. But narrowing the original decision question gives you much sharper insights. 2) Identify the key forces in the local environment. Forces within your organization and your environment might include such things as the size of the market, and whether it is expanding; your level of debt, and that of your potential partner; your and your partners' reputations; the existence of unfilled niches, and what the market really wants. 3) Isolate the driving forces. Having researched a number of forces that could affect your decision, ask yourself and your team: Which are the driving forces that are critical to this decision? Some driving forces affect everyone the same. Everyone, for instance, is driven by the need to cut costs, and the need to incorporate new technologies. But unless one of your potential partners is markedly better or worse than other people at doing these things, they are not differences that make a difference. 4) Rank the driving forces by importance and uncertainty. Some forces are more important than others. Whether the market will grow may not be as important as whether new players enter the market. And some forces are far more certain than others. Local housing and population patterns usually change fairly slowly. The aging of the U.S. population is fairly predictable over the coming decades -- and will have a similar effect in any scenario. On the other hand, other questions are highly uncertain. The most critical driving forces will be those that are both very important and highly uncertain. 5) Select the scenario logics. This is probably the most important step. The feeling is one of playing with the issues, re-shaping and re-framing them, drawing out their hidden factors, until you begin to come to a consensus about which are the two or three most important underlying questions that will make a difference in your decision. One way to generate scenarios from such questions is to cross them, in a two-axis matrix, or a three-axis volume. Crossing two major questions in a matrix gives four possible scenarios. 6) Flesh out the scenarios. Now go back to all the driving forces and trends that you considered in steps two and three, and see how they affect your scenarios. For instance, degree of risk, access to capital, ability to control costs, raise quality, or extend functionality, all might be critical in some scenarios, and not so important in others. Weave all the trends and driving forces into the basic logics that you have built, and see how they affect the story. 7) Play out the implications. Return to your original question and examine it in the light of the scenarios that you have built. Does the idea of merging with MegaComm, Inc., seem strong in all the scenarios? Suppose MC is a high-quality

company that has not yet shown a great ability to cut costs -- the decision looks pretty dicey under the some scenarios. You would be betting the farm on the hope that people will pay a bit more for quality. If it only looks good in some scenarios, and in others it seems to lead to crash-and-burn, classify the decision as a gamble. Remember, you built the scenarios out of factors that were highly important, highly uncertain, and beyond your control. 8) Search for markers. Finally, look for the leading indicators that would tell you which of the scenarios -- or which combination of scenarios -- is actually taking place. How would you know? The questions buyers ask in contract negotiations? Customer response in questionnaires and focus groups? Having the right questions in hand and having given thought to how you will know the answers when they show up will put you a step ahead of the next guy. According to Schwartz, "You can tell that you have good scenarios when they are both plausible and surprising; when they have the power to break old stereotypes; and when the makers assume ownership of them and put them to work. Scenario-making is intensely participatory, or it fails."

Coming Out
It's a bracing sight for anyone involved in health and healthcare -- or for anyone concerned with the way things change.

I'm standing in Sharon Meadows, a wide open space among the trees of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, looking out over a sea of faces. The stage behind me overflows with dignitaries, stacks of loudspeakers, and great arches of colored balloons. Mayor Willie Brown is greeting TV star Don Johnson. Banners and signs pop from the crowd. Booths at the sides sell lunches, T-shirts, and drinks. The largest banners identify dozens of big companies: Marriott, the Gap, United Airlines. It's the annual San Francisco AIDS Walk. These 25,000 people have come together to raise $3.5 million in one day to fight AIDS and to support those who are infected. After a brisk round of short speeches about everything from the recent progress in therapies to the troubling spread of the disease in Africa, all 25,000 will traipse off for a 10 kilometer walk around the park. But what

catches my eye and sets me thinking on this particular morning is the peculiarly ironic mix of denial and candor in the message on a T-shirt worn by a man in the front row. In large black letters, the T-shirt says, "I'm not gay but my boyfriend is." One thing AIDS has done is to force many people, gay and straight, into greater candor about their sexual orientation and practices -- which touch surprisingly close to the core of who we really are. For many people, owning up to the realities of their sexual life opens a big door into an overall integrity, into accepting and living with their real selves. When we maintain a false front for the world, the first person we have to fool is ourselves. "Coming out of the closet:" this image has dominated the gay world for the last quarter of a century. But the image does not serve only gays.

We all have our own closet. We all have our own closet. It's full of the things that we know but won't admit, not even to ourselves -- and the thousand ways that we don't know ourselves. Self-knowledge is the beginning of integrity, of coming out of the closet, and is a prerequisite for dealing well with change. Integrity is not just about not lying. Integrity means "as on the inside, so on the outside." We speak of a building having structural integrity when its parts are strongly knit, so that it can withstand shocks. We speak of visual integrity when what we can see (the building's surfaces, roofs, windows, and walkways) reflects what we cannot see (its purposes, the community with which it is connected). The Latin roots of "integrity" refer to touch. To have integrity is to be untouched, undivided, whole, integrated, and integral. The Taoists refer to "pu," the uncarved block of wood. There is a tight relationship between integrity and the ability to change, because integrity means knowing yourself, about being transparent. Our need for information increases as the square of the increase in the turbulence of the environment. The wilder things get, the hungrier we get for anything that will give us a clue about what's happening. When you look at an organization under stress, are there lots of rumors flying? That's why: the need for information is increasing faster than the supply. So people "improvise news" to make up the difference.

Integrity shows up in two of the "skills of change" -- "wholeness" and "aligning the center." Integrity allows you to move with tremendous speed when the time comes to move. This is why the diver points his toes. This is why the diver points his toes: if he is to whip through the rapid changes of a complex dive, his whole body must move as a unit. He must have command of every part. Watch a novice diver, a tyro golfer, a klutzy tennis player. What you'll see is the body moving every which way in the joints. As one arm swings the racket, the other hand is flailing off in the other direction, the hips going somewhere else entirely. The movement has no integrity, so it lacks power and speed. The same lack of integrity plagues people, families, organizations -- and even whole societies. We can see it in the difficulties of former communist states. "Reforming communism," writes the Polish Marxist philosopher Leszek Kolakowski, "is like trying to bake a snowball." It turns out that the collection of behaviors, people, and policies that we called "communism" was not one thing at all, but a congeries of wildly different elements -- bureaucratic inertia, nationalism, the will to power, idealism, individual ambition, clique politics, the hopes of the poor and their bitter memories. When you try to move the whole mess in a new direction, it comes apart. Each element has its own agenda, its own forces and dynamism, and you can't get them to turn a corner together. We all have had this experience as individuals. Try to change something (go back to school, marry, move, have a child . . .), and suddenly other things come apart. Just when you get the alligator's mouth closed the tail comes up and whaps you on the blind side. You may have had this experience in an organization as well. Managers trying to steer an organization through some change find themselves facing consequences that are not only unintended but seemingly unrelated -- invest in new printing technology and the delivery drivers stage a sickout. Settle with the drivers and the state starts a reimbursement investigation. Deal with the reimbursement problem and the head of public relations quits.

"I should have known about that. Why didn't I know?" "I should have known about that," the manager finds himself saying. "Why didn't I know?"

Often, you did know -- or someone in the organization did, but no one ever asked them. Even worse, no one let them know that their information, their opinion, or their point of view, would be welcome. The people in our organizations know vastly more -- and can generate vastly more knowledge -- than any of us as individuals. For an organization to truly know itself, it must bring all that knowledge out of the closet. This is not just a matter of sending a memo around, saying, "Let me know if you have any good ideas, or any information that I should know." In most organizations most of the time, information and opinion are part of the currency of politics. The value of a piece of information depends on who is saying it, and who their friends are, and what we think they stand to gain by saying such a thing. An organization that wants to learn to dance with change must come to know itself and its environment thoroughly. To do this, it must make use of all the knowledge of every member -- and all of their learning capability. It must be built into the culture that new information and different points of view are powerful, are welcomed. At the end of his book, The Art of the Long View. Peter Schwartz outlines the value of "strategic conversations" and tells how to have one. He pictures an ongoing series of informal meetings within an organization that feed into the more formal planning process. Narrowly, these meetings bring a richness and flexibility to planning and decision-making. More broadly, they engage the entire organization in a long-running conversation about the group's purpose, goals, prospects, and opportunities -- and turns the whole organization into an information-gathering organism. With Schwartz' permission, I'll share with you the six steps that he outlines: 1. Create a hospitable climate: Make it clear, regularly and loudly, by actions as well as words, that the organization welcomes dissenting opinions, minority reports, new information, and unconventional wisdom. 2. Establish an initial group, including key decision makers and outsiders: Key decision makers must be involved in the discussions, not merely handed a set of neatly edited "options papers" when it's all done. They need the full richness of information that the discussions entail. Beyond the key decision makers, the discussions need as wide a variety of people as possible. Finance people, technicians, "suits," people of different departments, campuses and parts of the organization, as well as different races and ages, will bring far more information and perspective to the conversation than would a homogenous group.

3. Include outside information and outside people: The thinking of any organization becomes inbred. Outsiders (consultants, "experts," even visitors from other organizations) and outside information (articles, studies, books, web searches) provide a leavening that cannot be generated inside. Benchmarking (intensively studying the methods of other, highly effective organizations) is one powerful method of bringing in outside knowledge. 4. Look ahead far in advance of decisions: The best time to think about a decision is not when we are under the gun of a deadline or a present crisis. We often have a general idea what kind of big decisions we will be facing far in advance. These may be coming new technologies, shifts in markets, or the loss of key raw materials. Our conversations about these things will be far richer and deeper if we begin them now, instead of waiting for events to catch up with us. 5. Begin by looking at the present and the past: To figure out where we want to go, we have to know where we are and how we got there. This discussion should also include our feelings: if people in the organization have a lot of passion about the past and the present, that will likely power its future, for better or worse. 6. Conduct preliminary scenario work in smaller groups: The discussion works best when it starts and ends in the larger group. But individual issues (Internet strategy, marketing, technical improvement) are best dealt with in smaller, more tightly focused sub-sets of the main group. 7. Play out the conversation: Now that you have gotten beyond the "conventional wisdom," brought in new information, and generated a number of future scenarios in the sub-groups and the main group, you are ready to play these out into the future: What if Scenario A is true? How would we surf that particular wave? Would the strategy we have been discussing work in that scenario? Would it work better in Scenario B? How would we know? 8. Make it permanent: Once you have made one decision, don't close down the conversation. Keep it going. Focus on new topics. Invite in new people. Hold workshops for other people in the organization, so that they can hear what has been going on. Make these discussions the core of the organization's "learning strategy," rather than delegating that strategy to a strategic planning department or a group of consultants. These "strategic conversations" are not weekend exercises. They play out over months and years. They are not a break in the organization's routine. They are the organization's routine, an expanded way for the organization to talk to itself and think about its future. Rapid change in the environment requires deep transformation in us -- as individuals, as families, as organizations. To thrive in an uncertain world, we must know ourselves. We must become transparent. We must learn to move as

one organism, with an integrity that reaches to our toes. We must talk to ourselves, and each other, and we must listen.

Breaking the trance
The stage hypnotist tells his mesmerized subject, a dignified woman in a designer dress: "When I snap my fingers, you will run in circles and bark like a dog." Moments later, the woman is out of the trance and chatting happily
about the experience, when suddenly the hypnotist snaps his fingers. The woman instantly begins running in circles and barking, and the audience breaks into howls of laughter. The psychiatrist turns down the room light. He takes a beautiful pen with an unusual golden cap from his pocket and begins wagging it back and forth in front of his client's eyes. He intones: "As you watch the pen, you are feeling sleepy. Your eyes are becoming heavy . . ." Moments later, in a deep trance, the client begins exploring traumatic moments of her childhood, guided by the skilled psychiatrist. This is our image of trance: a special state of mind, induced by a skilled professional, over which the subject has little control. Yet the father of modern hypnotherapy, Milton Erickson, insisted that trance was a quite common state, one that we drop into many times a day without any help at all -- a "petting the kitty" trance, a "yelling at the kids" trance, a "surgeon" trance, a "lovemaking" trance, a "getting dressed down by my superiors" trance. How can we call these events "trances" when they are so ordinary? Erickson pointed out several key ingredients of a trance -- and it is these defining ingredients that give the trance state its great power. These might be pleasant or unpleasant experiences, they might be helpful to us or they may be holding us back, but they have a number of things in common:  Trance is an altered state of consciousness in which the attention is narrowed, focused for the moment just on the purring kitty, on the patient and the sterile field, on the face and body of the loved one, on the outraged boss. Other inputs -- the birds chirping outside, the itch you had a moment ago, your worry about the big meeting at lunch -- tend to fade in importance. In fact, you may not register them at all.

 A trance feels autonomous, like something that is happening to you. It does not feel like you are creating it -- yet you are. No pointy-headed alien or scaly demon has taken charge of your brain. As a corollary, your behavior while in the trance feels automatic, autonomous, out of your control. You don't start it, you can't stop it, and you can't change it -- at least, that's how it feels, and that's how you act. You may make decisions as a surgeon, for instance, but your stance at the table, your tone of voice, and your habits of mind are unconscious, unguided, ingrained.  A trance comes packaged with any of a number of "Deep Trance Phenomena." Shifted time is one such phenomenon, in which we can regress to a childlike state (the enraged superior becomes mapped onto a domineering father), or project ourselves into an imagined future ("I'm going to lose my job!"). We might have hallucinations, seeing things that aren't really present ("You're just like my first wife"). We might have negative hallucinations, failing to notice things which are present, but conflict with the trance (such as, say, a colleague's alcoholic haze after lunch). Other trance phenomena include dissociation ("I'm not really here."), amnesia (in which we later have difficulty recalling exactly what went on during the trance), confusion, and even sensory distortions such as insensitivity to pain.  A trance tends to repeat. A particular trance is a package of learned skills and trance phenomena triggered by some outside stimulus: put on the scrubs, scrub up, put your hands up for the gloves, take one more look at the X-rays, and you enter the "surgeon" trance, just as you have hundreds or thousands of times before. The husband says, "I'd love to have one of those new Jaguars," the wife says, "We can't possibly afford it, you don't make nearly enough money, Stanford tuition has gone up again . . . " The husband interrupts, "I make plenty! If you just managed it better . . ." and they are off to the races, having the same argument they have had over and over. Both of them have the "money argument" trance ready to hand, with all of its narrowed focus, age regression, and amnesia -- in fact, he's making more money than he used to, and she's managing it better, but for the purposes of the trance, they both forget these realities. Trances are universal. We can't operate for long without being in a trance of one kind or another. We often need them to narrow our focus. Erickson focused at length on ways to induce trance to help clients with the problems they brought to him. Psychologist Stephen Wolinsky has taken Erickson's work a step further. He observed that there was no need to induce any trances in his clients -- they were already in a trance. The problem the

client brought in the door (a damaging shyness, a violent temper, a lack of emotion) was itself a trance, complete with narrowed focus, the feeling that it was happening to them, and various Deep Trance Phenomena, from age regression and sensory distortion to amnesia and dissociation. Wolinsky (author of Trances People Live [1991] and Quantum Consciousness [1993]), helps his clients recognize that their problem is, in fact, a kind of trance. Then he helps them discover how they construct the trance -- what are the necessary pieces, and how do they put them together to create this state of mind? In the process, they gain control of the trance. They discover that they can step outside it if they want to, set it aside, or change its flavor. The trance is no longer autonomous, the behavior no longer automatic.

Change is similar at different scales. Change is similar at different scales. Often, insights gained at one level (personal psychology, say, or organizational dynamics) can be used to explore change at a different level (political changes or family interactions). Here we can take an insight from psychology and apply it to organizations. Organizations have trances, too. They have autonomous states of mind, ways of thinking that seem to come from nowhere, that seem impossible to change. They have automatic behaviors -- ways of meeting, building of bureaucratic structures, interactions between departments. If organizations had knees, we might call them "knee-jerk reactions." Or communal habits. Or organizational trances. Recently, BART (the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit system) experienced a strike. The unions wanted to end a two-tier pay system to which they had agreed in the early 1990s during a financial crisis. The negotiators on both sides of the table were new -- both the BART management and the union leadership had come into office since the previous settlement. Yet both sides, as if on robotic command, acted out the frustrations, posturing, and beliefs about the other side left over from the previous settlement, or in some cases left over from the previous strike a generation before in the late 1970s. Despite mounting public anger, for a week the two sides seemed unable to find any way out of their impasse -- and in the end, management essentially caved in. The strike is over, but many of the issues remain. Organizations display the full range of Deep Trance Phenomena. For years, Disney acted like an age-regressed person

For many years after Walt Disney's death, the Walt Disney Company acted much like an age-regressed person. Unable to reach important decisions, Disney managers repeatedly asked themselves "what Walt would have done," casting themselves back to a time when the company had a decisive father-like founder at the helm. Apple Computer held onto a "hypnotic identity" as a company on the cutting edge of innovation for years while its true rate of innovation lagged far behind that of its competitors. Organizations that have undergone major layoffs, or the loss of corporate identity in a merger, often drift in a kind of "grief trance" for years, in which the employees operate at less than full capacity, as if stunned and fatigued by their incapacity to deal with the sudden change. Many organizations successfully use a kind of self-induced trance to narrow their focus and galvanize their employees. Hewlett-Packard employees, for instance, think of their company as a great home for engineers to pursue innovation. Individuals often fall into identity trances in which they identify with their problem: "I am an alcoholic," "I am a loser," "I am the guy who can't control his anger." Organizations fall into similar identity trances, rarely expressed in words, such as, "We are the mediocre organization in this market," "This is the workplace where we stifle creativity and reward political maneuvering," or "We are the people who work to the rule book, and not one step further, because we have been wounded so long and deeply by management." The first step is simply to be curious The first step, in dealing with organizational trances, is simply to be curious, to ask yourself: "If we operate in a trance sometimes, what is the trance?" People often operate in a "professional" trance: "I am (my profession). I must think the way (a person in my profession) would. No other modes of thought are allowed." People in not-for-profit or government organizations often operate in a "dogood" trance. The "do-good" trance has a number of flavors, such as, "We work so hard doing all these important things. People (taxpayers, donors, the community) should support us." Or, "We work so hard doing all these important things, we don't have the time to step back and look for better ways of doing them. Sorry, gotta go!" Look for the elements I have mentioned: When an organization is in a trance, it will have a narrowed focus in that particular area, like a hiker walking with his head down. It will think and behave automatically. It will feel to the organization as if these behaviors and ways of thinking are somehow imposed

from the outside. The trance will be a habit, a repeated syndrome. And it will be accompanied by such trance phenomena as amnesia (in which the organization forgets the lessons learned in the last crisis, for instance) or dissociation (in which, for instance, an organization struggles to remain disconnected from the community, the industry, or the world in which it operates, drawing firm mental boundaries at the front door of the institution). Next ask yourself: What is the shape of that trance? Is it a useful one? In what way? Is it limiting? How?" Ask yourself: How do we build this trance? If I wanted to induce this trance in another organization, what would I have to do? Let's take an example: an organization with a mediocrity trance: people in the organization believe it to be just middle-of-the-market, the organization that doesn't do anything particularly well. Listen to the organization's self-talk, for instance ("We don't have the top engineers they have at LottaBux Inc."), expectations ("Of course Gargantua Telecomm will get the big MagnaCorp contract. Let's try for the Chamber of Commerce small business package. We can handle that."), even the jokes "High cost, low quality: we guarantee it." ("High cost, low quality: we guarantee it."). If the trance is a harmful one, how can you loosen its grip? By building up parallel realities. For instance, if the organization in the mediocrity trance were to do any one thing unarguably better than anyone else around -- and if everyone in the organization knew about this success -- the trance would begin to waver and crumble. If it put together the best customer service program in the market, in ways that were obvious, with results that were clearly superior, the trance would lose its automatic nature. Until the trance is broken, you cannot put together a superior organization no matter how much you spend, no matter how hard you try. If you have amazed yourself at anything, it becomes harder for the "We're mediocre" trance to get a grip. Sometimes an organization doesn't need to change its reality, it just needs to re-sort its beliefs about reality. One organization I visited spent six months in a grief/victim trance about some layoffs that had been handled badly. The trance included a number of beliefs about the insensitivity of management. Then the management invited two outside consultants to interview a number of the employees. In a large employee meeting, the consultants presented quotes from the interviews, along with the results of a survey of employee attitudes, with the CEO who had botched the layoffs sitting on stage, hearing all the pain and anger. He apologized -- not for the layoffs, which were necessary, but for

the unnecessarily brutal way in which he had carried them out. He told them how he would handle layoffs in the future. And he invited feedback. The process was very hard for the CEO, but the trance lifted, and the organization got on with its life. And the administrator did not have to deal with those issues any more. He could truly call them "history." In your organization and your life, when do you drop into a trance? What are you doing that is "on automatic?" How well does that serve you? Could you break out of it if you wanted to?

Finding a new path
A young man seeking wisdom traveled far in his search, and one day he came to a Guru seated at the base of a mountain, and
said, "I have been told by many and sundry that you know the path up the Mountain of Wisdom. Is this true?"

"Yes, it is," said the Guru, who had a flowing white beard and long bushy white eyebrows that curled up at the tips. He was wearing nothing of any consequence save for some beads around his neck and a dhoti wrapped modestly about his loins. "Is this the mountain?" asked the Seeker. "Yes it is," said the Guru. "There is only one mountain. I am the guardian of the path." "Can you take me up the path?" The Guru's great curling eyebrows scrunched together in a furrow of doubt. He was silent for a long time, gazing at the Seeker as if he could see deeply into him. Finally he said, "I can take you up the path, but can you follow?" "I can take you up the path, but can you follow? The way is long and arduous, the difficulties many, the temptations to turn aside are legion. Many attempt the path, few succeed." "I would like to try." "You will have to serve as my chela, my disciple, and do whatever I ask, no matter how difficult, until we get to the top."

"I promise," said the Seeker. So they set off up the path, the Guru moving with amazing speed for so old a man, the Seeker puffing to keep up. The path was, indeed, long. Hours became days, days turned into weeks. The Seeker would have become lost many times without the Guru. At various points the Guru stopped and made the Seeker perform some task or learn some skill, often what seemed to the Seeker a senseless one. The Guru would go no further until the Seeker had learned the skill. Months went by. Further and further up the mountain they toiled, through brambles and deep canyons, over rocks and through caves. They never met anyone else on the path. After some time (the Seeker had long lost track, but I will tell you that it was, to be precise, one year, one day, four hours and seven minutes since they had started), they reached the summit of the Mountain of Wisdom. It was broad and flat and, to the Seeker's enormous surprise, crowded. The Guru seemed to know who everyone was and, standing on a small prominence, he pointed them out for the Seeker -- the milling crowds of Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Buddhist monks, Catholic nuns and priests, as well as badminton players, rock stars, stockbrokers, mothers with babies, grandmothers, a woman Prime Minister, four astronomers and at least one rodeo clown. As they watched, what looked like a tour bus drove up onto the mountain from the other side. The Seeker sat down, speechless. Finally he looked at the Guru, struggling to get out the words. "But . . . you said . . . one path." "But . . . you said . . . one path." "No," said the Guru gently. "I said, `One mountain.' There are many paths." "But . . . your way was so difficult. And we never met anyone." "That was not my way. That was your way. Everyone has their own. That was the easiest path you could have taken. The path to wisdom is always exactly hard enough -- that is, it is excruciatingly difficult. You must trust me on this."

The making of a physician So -- how has your path been so far? What have you trained for? How does that training fit with what you are doing now? Take a look at the path of today's physicians, and think about your own path.

Every physician goes through a long and grueling process of selection, selfselection, and training. That training is built on a foundation of learning, by rote, an enormous amount of information about the human body, about diseases, symptoms and therapies, about tests and diagnostics. Add to that base the skills of gathering more information, plus certain physical skills such as finding a vein with a hypodermic, or entubating an air passage, along with the mental skills that of coming rapidly to a logical judgment based on that information -- and you have a basic medical education. The process selects (and the trainees self-select) for people who find this process congenial. The process is based on the powers of memory, observation, and logic. Though doctors are trained to consult, it is at root an individual process. And it is reactive -- the doctor responds to the presenting situation. And there is a meta-training as well, a set of assumptions, postures and beliefs that is often unspoken, but is in its consequences as powerful as anything a physician learns. In his rounds, the intern learns not only that he must know everything, but also that he must appear to know everything. For the patient to have confidence, the physician must seem an Olympian. The fledgling He learns to hide his ignorance, dissemble his fear, and elide his vulnerability. physician learns to hide his ignorance, to dissemble his fear, to elide his vulnerability. Today, out on the floor, in the clinic, in the executive suite at the healthcare center, things are changing. Medicine is changing, healthcare is changing, even the patients are changing. Increasingly, you are being asked to exercise skills that run against the grain of your training. Patients are demanding more information and taking more responsibility. Some of them are going on the Internet and researching their particular condition more deeply than you would ever have the time to do. Managed care is pushing at the edges of ethical practice, demanding that physicians operate in ways that may not be in the best interests of the patient. At the same time, outcomes management and other new ways of improving quality increasingly demand that physicians collaborate with each other, with care managers, and with patients. Medical knowledge is expanding faster than any physician can keep up -- and the means to search for and process that information are improving almost as rapidly. Genetic markers, polymerase chain reactors, and other early detection techniques will increasingly allow physicians to get involved in the disease process far earlier, often in a preventive rather than reactive mode, turning some of the practice of medicine into a kind of individualized public health. And as these techniques become widely available and their cost efficiencies become obvious, care managers will increasingly insist that they be used.

So where the old medicine was reactive, the new medicine increasingly will be preventive. Where the old medicine was based on memory, the new medicine increasingly will be based on an expanded ability to gather information. Where the old medicine was, at root, a matter of an individual physician's judgment, the new medicine increasingly will be collaborative, based on care guidelines, on teamwork, on consultation, on handing over some of the power of judgment, logic, and information-searching to colleagues, to technological tools, and even to the patient and the patient's family. Where the old medicine was authoritative and hierarchical, the new medicine increasingly will be advisory. The troubles of the hyphen When a physician becomes a physician-executive, the shift is similar, but even more abrupt, more confusing, less marked by signposts. To be an organizational leader -- especially in the 1990s, in healthcare more than in any other industry -- is to be a master of teamwork, a maven of process, at home with ambiguity, comfortable with change, a nurturer of consensus, yet decisive, ready to move in the face of all the ambiguity. Suddenly the patient, the passive recipient of care, becomes the "customer" and, as Gail Warden, CEO of Henry Ford in Detroit, puts it, "The customer is the boss." Suddenly decisiveness, a quality very familiar to a physician, has to blend with collaboration. After 11 years as a healthcare CEO, Dr. James Reinertsen of Health System Minnesota told me, "At first I was under the impression that people looked to me to decide. Now I rarely come to a meeting thinking that it is my job to decide. It's far more important for me to elicit the best decisions from the group, and to see that a decision is made. Now I realize that I do not always know the best course." Pat Hays, former CEO of Sutter Helath in California and now CEO of Blue Cross/Blue Shield, echoed Reintertsen almost exactly: "In the earlier part of my career, I felt that I had to be the center of all answers. Now it is more a matter of shaping the philosophy and the dialog, setting the basic strategic directions, and then getting out of their way." So did Stephanie S. McCutcheon, CEO of St. Louis Health Care Network: "I was raised to see a leader as the person with all the answers. When I was "I was raised to see a leader as the person with all the answers." younger, often I would go into a meeting with an answer ready to go. Now I

walk into meetings without answers and craft the answers at the meeting. My experience as a leader is that it's my job to facilitate the development of the vision, to get the team around the table to find the answers, to pose the proper questions, to look creatively for solutions." Facilitating the vision, eliciting the group decision, shaping the dialogue and getting out of the way: these don't sound like skills taught in medical school, or learned in clinical practice. The physician is used to rapid, relatively clear feedback -- the patient gets better or worse or dies. The executive is used to feedback from the marketplace, the industry, her colleagues and her subordinates, that is subtle, mercurial, and easy to misinterpret. Communicating a sense of vulnerability, which could be a problem in a physician, is occasionally a necessity in a leader. The ability to communicate a vision, rarely called for in a physician, is a basic job skill for a leader. The Olympian aura of authority, knowledge, and judgment that the physician has so carefully cultivated would be a stone around the neck of the executive. Finding the new path The hyphenated physician-executive lives in state of culture shock. If she does not understand what this shock means, and where it comes from, she will forever be questioning her fellow executives' motivations and competence. Every transaction will seem odd, every meeting interminable, and most processes unnecessary. If she wants to stop feeling weird and start being more productive as a hyphenate, she has to take two major steps. The first major step is to recognize that the traits of the true organizational leader are, in fact, skills. The skills of the leader who shows up at a meeting without a pre-made decision, who "facilitates consensus," who helps the group "look creatively for solutions" may seem so soft and fuzzy as to be invisible to the medical mind. The physician may find himself saying, ""That's a skill set? What's to learn here?" "That's a skill set? What's to learn here?" The physician may find himself wondering how these people manage to hold down a job at all, let alone become a major suit in the front office, without any noticeable skills. This way of thinking does not make for fruitful, efficient relationships. But anyone who has actually run a major healthcare organization for a significant period of time can attest that these skills are real, that they are powerful, that you can't run a healthcare organization today without them.

These skills do not represent a better or worse way of thinking and acting. Rather, they are the right skills for their context. They are a different path up the Mountain of Wisdom. The second major step is to learn these skills, to set out deliberately, this far along in life, on a new kind of training, a new path. It will take time. As these are significant skills, learning them is a non-trivial task. No one book or seminar will give them to you, no single class or training course. Executives I have interviewed consistently talk about many years, even decades, of experience shaping their style. Once more with feeling The Guru turned to the young Seeker and said, "Well, that's enough rest, Let's start down." The Seeker was startled all over again. "Head down? Whatever for?" "Why, so that we can try another path." "What?" cried the Seeker. "I wanted to stay here. Wasn't that the whole point?" "Oh, no." The Guru seemed shocked. "No one is allowed to stay here. Do you see any houses up here? Oh, no no no no. If wisdom is what you seek, it is here, on this mountain -- and you must ascend the mountain over and over again, by one path and then by another. That is how we attain wisdom. That's how I became a guru -- and that's why I scoot up the mountain so easily. Come along!" And with that he hopped off the rock and vanished back the way they had come.

Why it matters
I'm sitting in my four-wheel-drive at the edge of a redwood grove on a ridge top, looking down across tumbling hills of grass and forest to the distant sea. An intimacy of clouds boils up
against the tall dark trees, whipping them with clots of windy rain that rock the truck. In moments they are gone, the sun is shining on Monterey Bay below me, and a rainbow appears over my right shoulder. The forces of change batter the mountain, and the mountain does what a mountain does.

Watching the rain and wind, pushed by the power of the storm, I can't get my mind off a conversation of the night before. At a gathering at a friend's big white loft, I was talking with a vascular surgeon and a neurosurgeon, both energetic men with beepers on their belts and little party pastries in hand. They had asked what I did, and I had mentioned this column. The vascular surgeon was dismissive: "I'm sure that helps some people, but I wouldn't read it." "Why not?" "It's just not important for me. All this organizational change stuff is just makeAll this organizational change stuff is just make-work for consultants. work for consultants. It doesn't matter. It doesn't take us anywhere definite. When I'm scrubbed and have a scalpel in my hand, that's when I know what I am after. I can tell you when I have succeeded. I know that it makes a difference in someone's life." "But that's just the point," said the neurosurgeon. "Surgery takes great skill, and the patient's life is at stake. I am very proud of what I can do, and happy that I can make a difference -- yet I know that I can do it, and I know what I am attempting. Personal change, organizational change, working with people -now that's really hard. There are no markers, no clear rules, it seems to go on forever -- and the risks are enormous." I was surprised. "More than the risk in surgery?" He looked at the ceiling for a long moment, then said, "Look, surgery carries huge risks -- but mostly for the patient. If I were to make a really big mistake, my professional standing might be at risk, there might be legal problems, feelings of guilt. But in dealing with change, working with other people, what's at stake is who I am, I guess. What I might discover about myself. How I might have to change." "What about the risk of not getting involved in change work, not even thinking about it?" "I don't know. It feels like that risk is just as great. Since everything around me changes, I had better know how to deal with change, or I'm stuck." I had better know how to deal with change, or I'm stuck."

That comment stuck with me -- the risk of not being able to change in a time when everything around me is shifting. To be unable to change, to see things in new ways, to understand what I had not understood before, to renew myself -is to take part in my own slavery, to sell myself down my own river. The fear of change -- the fear of the unknown, of things that, deep down, under the professional veneer, I wonder whether I can handle -- is quite real. It is immediate and nearly constant. In some ways the large challenges are easier to handle. Can you remember how you first decided to go into your field, what your state of mind was when you made that life-shaping decision? Or when you decided to marry, or divorce, or move to another state? These things at least present themselves to us as big decisions, things we should think about. More often, life gets away from us while we are not looking, in moment-to-moment conversations around the clinic or the office, on the phone, over the dinner table. How can I drive out the fear? There is no simple answer. The complex answer starts with daily practice, with taking the practice deeper, taking it wall to wall. If you have been in the military, you know how How can I drive out the fear? There is no simple answer. many times a recruit has to field-strip his weapon. The gestures, steps and details must be automatic -- so that the soldier can do it under stress, in battle, when he's exhausted, scared and alone. The things we do to drive out fear must be that automatic, because when we need them most we are not at our best. Integrity drives out fear. If I am on the outside as I am on the inside, if I am willing to own up to my rough spots and crimes, if I am not a stranger in my own life, then I have no fear that I will be exposed, discovered, revealed by changing circumstances. Whatever happens, I will still be myself. As Tracy Chapman sings, "Hunger only for the taste of justice. Hunger only for the inner truth. All that you have is your soul." Owning up to my true feelings about the situation drives out fear. Here's the equation: In general, people don't change unless the pain and uncertainty of changing is less than the pain and difficulty of staying where they are. So what do we do about the pain, difficulty, aggravation, and stress of our present situation? Too often, we say, "I can handle it." We grit our teeth, hunker down, and plow forward. Sometimes we enlist alcohol, or some other chemical, or sexual adventure, to help with the denial. And the fear just grows. Admitting

to ourselves, and even to others, "I'm scared," or "I'm exhausted, I don't know if I can keep this up," or whatever we are feeling, frees up energy for the task at hand. And it allows us to see whether the change might not be so bad after all. Acknowledging failure -- in fact, studying our own failures with candor and in detail -- drives out fear. The most popular course at Harvard Business School is a class on leadership taught by Ronald Heifetz. His students (most of them not college kids but people in mid-career) say that the most difficult and most deeply educational part of the curriculum is his requirement that they each give a presentation to the class detailing their most spectacular failure. Here's the rule of thumb: It's not really a failure unless you don't learn anything from it. it's not really a failure unless you don't learn anything from it. Breaking change down into its smallest components drives out fear. If we are contemplating some leap into the dark -- merging with another organization, say, or starting a program of practice guidelines -- the sheer size, complexity, and uncertainty of the task is daunting. If we imagine it in the smallest possible pieces, one small step at a time, it is far easier to imagine how we can complete the task, as well as where we can bail out if we change our minds. Models of the future -- role models, mentors, benchmark situations that give us some sense of where we might be going -- drive out fear. To change, we need models. Organizational change consultants often speak of the "burning platform," a blazing oil platform as a metaphor for a present situation that we must abandon. But to leap from a burning platform, we need to see at least some place to leap to, some place that is not a burning platform. Learning to let go drives out fear. Call this "treating it like weather." Prepare for turbulence, but don't take it personally -- even when the turbulence is personal. This last, in fact, is one of the four great rules of life. These four rules apply to all of life. They very nearly guarantee success in everything from love to career. But they apply with much greater force and clarity in dealing with change and turbulence. Try them and see. If you apply them diligently for a long period of time, and they don't make your life any better, write me. I'd like to hear about it. They are: 1) Show up.

2) Pay attention. 3) Speak the truth. 4) Let go. Let me go over these: Show up: Be there. Don't be on the golf course when the decisions are made, or when your child needs you, or your spouse. Don't duck out of responsibilities. Volunteer. Put in the time. Say, "I'd like to be involved in that." Say, "How can I help?" Pay attention: Listen. Ask for more. Look for different perspectives. Stay hungry for understanding. Speak the truth: Say what is true from where you sit, what looms large in the lens you are looking through. Let go: Let it happen. Know what is in your control and what is not. Shrug off the result, looking only for what you can learn. Like anything else, if you practice these diligently for just three weeks, they will become a habit, they will be easy. You will be able to practice them under the greatest stress, in the most threatening times. Drive out the fear. The voice of Jelaluddin Rumi, the thirteenth-century Muslim poet and philosopher, rings across the ages when I read him: "Don't be timid. Load the ship and set out. No one knows for certain whether the vessel will sink or reach the harbor. Just don't be one of those merchants who won't risk the ocean. This is much more important than losing or making money!"

Finding The Essential Difference
The White House, Nowra, New South Wales: It is dawn. The sun is rising out of the Tasman Sea. Across the road, black and white cows trundle slowly through the thick, shoulderhigh mist. But my attention is on the borderless cacaphonic screeching
emanating from a nearby tree, alive with what must be hundreds of birds. Now

and then a brace of birds bursts from the tree and races off, or barrels past me back to the tree. What is strange to American eyes is that the birds are parrots, rosella, lories, green and gold, blue and red, flashy tropical birds that I have seen before only in cages, aviaries, and pet stores. The scene does not quite seem real. The cars of Australia are jarring in much the same way. Whether home-grown Holdens (from the down-under branch of General Motors), Ford Falcon Futuras, or Daewoo Esperos, they all look quite familiar. But on closer inspection, few of them are quite like any we see in America. Here in this English-speaking, democratic country, our ally in every war since the country was founded, everything is so familiar and ordinary, and yet nothing is -- from the flying foxes careening over Darling Harbor in downtown Sydney, to driving on the left, to the double-deck subway cars. As Antoine de Ste. Exupery put it in the great philosophical tome The Little Prince: "What is essential is invisible to the eye." Which of these differences are essential? Which is the difference that makes a difference? Which is, as Gregory Bateson would put it, "The difference that makes a difference?" Yesterday my wife and I drove down to Jervis Bay National Park to explore the Botanic Gardens and search for kangaroos in the wild. Only it wasn't, as the map said, Jervis Bay National Park. Now it was Booderee National Park. At the park gate -- a small surprise -- two teenaged Aborigine girls sold us our permits. At the park store, two other teenaged Aborigine girls operate the sandwich shop. I thought these were small, inessential differences, but I discovered that they mask an essential one: the Wreck Bay Aborigine community, it turns out, now owns the National Park and Botanic Gardens, leases them back to the government, and runs them jointly with the government. A bare generation back, Aborigines were not allowed to own any land at all in Australia. Their relationship to the land they held sacred was legally null. Today they have become the stewards of the nation's sacred places here, at Uluru (Alice Rock), and elsewhere. This is a profound change for them, and for Australia. This idea -- what is essential, and what is peripheral -- is basic to all intelligent management of change. At the core of all our resistance to change is the fear that we will lose something of ourselves, something unrecoverable. "Touching

ground" -- gaining clarity on what we are truly about, and shaping our strategies around that core -- is a key skill of the change master. Two weeks ago, I sat down to dinner in the "old town" of Alexandria, Virginia, with Roger Fritz, president of Leadership by Design, Inc., a St. Louis consulting firm. An architect by training, Fritz' work these days parallels mine: he helps his clients move profitably through major cycles of change. I asked him, in his experience, what was the most important element in helping clients deal with change. "Helping them recognize what's essential," he said. "There are two kinds of change: technical change and profound change. A technical change asks you to learn something different. A profound change asks you to be someone different." Too often, we confuse the two. An apparently technical change can mask a profound shift in attitudes, in working relationships, even in purpose. And what seems a profound shift -- a new mission statement, a team-based reorganization, a change in ownership -- may turn out to be merely technical, another set of forms to fill out, a new meeting to attend, while all the real work is done in "work-arounds" that approximate the old way of doing things. Is it really only technical? We make technical changes constantly -- new software, new protocols, new flavor-of-the-week organizational techniques. Many of these changes are, in fact, only technical. They mimic the techniques we had used previously. They change no relationships, redistribute no power. Previously, one manager walked down the hall with an chart to show to a colleague. Today, he attaches it to an email and sends it across the continent. But he is still a professional consulting a peer and asking for an opinion. Other changes in technique actually bring with them profound changes in relationship, attitude, mission, or purpose. They change what things mean. Email can flatten organizational relationships, bringing everyone into direct contact with the top. Cross-organizational teams, benchmarking exercises, and other organizational changes cast people in roles they never had before. All these seemingly technical changes shift people into different relationships with each other and change the equations of power, access, control, and accountability. And all of them -- temporarily at least -- make people less competent. Change lowers competence

I am driving a rented a car here in Australia, and I have instantly become a beginning driver, bumbling, over-cautious, and klutzy. Driving from the righthand seat for the first time, when I try to downshift during a turn I reach for the windshield wipers instead of the turn signal, and for the door handle rather than the shift lever. When I want to look behind me, I look up to my right, missing the rear-view mirror on the windshield to my left. In the language of Sewell Wright, a University of Chicago geneticist in the 1930s, I had reached a "local peak" in the landscape of fitness in my competence as a driver of cars with the steering wheel on the left. Looking out across this metaphoric "fitness landscape," I could see another peak not far off, a fitness peak in which I would be competent driving on either the left or the right. But in order to get to that new, higher peak of fitness, I have to climb down off of this peak and cross the valley of incompetence. This is why, as Fritz had pointed out, "Every change leads to low competency. And the more profound the change, the more profound the incompetence." It's one thing to be incompetent with a new computer program, not knowing the commands. It's far more unsettling to feel incompetent as a leader, or even as a human being, not knowing my relationship to the people I work with, what is expected of me, and what will work. "Any system has two forms of resilience," Fritz said. "One is identity - all the ways that it knows what is itself and what is alien. The second is coping strategies - all the ways that it deals with its own inadequacies in the face of change and conflict. Both of these are shattered by large-scale change." So it's a bad idea, according to Fritz, to try to drag an organization through all kinds of change at the same time. It's far better to "stair step" technical changes with profound changes, allowing each type to reinforce the other, and building an organization's competence at the skills of change itself. The stakes, after all, are quite high. An organization facing change and conflict is unlikely to come through the experience unaltered. It is likely to change, for the better or for the worse. "The system can adjust downward until it finds an acceptable solution," Fritz told me. "Or it can adjust upward to the next level of elegance." Cumulative change Every small technical change carries with it some modicum of profound change. These tiny shifts can accumulate until suddenly, it seems, the world turns upside down. In a remnant rainforest here in New South Wales, we encountered the wonderful "strangler fig." Drop the seed of this plant into the ground and, with the right chances of rainfall, sunlight, and competition, it can grow into a

mighty tree towering above the forest canopy. But if the seed falls instead into the branches of the parent tree, far off the ground, it can sprout anyway. It drops a long root to the ground, and turns into a vine, wrapping itself around the parent tree and reaching upward for sunlight. Often many of these vines braid around a tall trunk, growing fatter and stronger year by year. The parent tree will eventually die and rot away, leaving the vines as an enormous vertical hollow braid, now standing on its own, the scaffold for other, newer vines to climb. Ownership, authorship, followership, service Over the last few years, one of the most profound changes in organizations ever attempted has arisen -- often hidden among the vines and ferns of technical change. We can call it the question of ownership. "Historically," Fritz pointed out, "there have only been two mindsets in the workplace. One is the 'employee' mindset -- wind me up with the promise of a paycheck, point me in the right direction, and I'll go do whatever you tell me to do, no more and no less. The other is the 'employer/entrepreneur/owner' mindset -- I'm in charge, I have a larger goal, I have to think creatively to meet those goals as conditions change. "Now we are asking employees to be more accountable, creative, and involved. We're essentially asking them to be someone different, to act as if they are an owner. Yet we can't give them final say over anything. So a nearly irresolvable internal conflict is buried at a profound level of change. If we ask the question in terms of control -- 'Am I in control of this or not?' -- there is no answer. It works better if we can frame the question, instead, as, 'When is it necessary for me to act as a leader? When is it important that I be of service?'" What changes are taking place in your own organization? Are they technical or profound? Are there profound changes hidden in the technical changes? When you attempt a small, technical change, and you encounter resistance that seems out of proportion, look for the profound change buried inside the technical change -- that's what people are reacting to. The resistance will only disappear when you have addressed those concerns, one way or another.

The Four Quadrants of Change

What's the best response to change? That depends on your relationship to the change -- to a great extent, on the power balance. How much power does this change have to affect you or

your organization or family? How much power do you have to control it or shift its direction? The answer to those two questions will give us one lens through which we can look at change. Picture a simple diagram:

We are not vulnerable to changes in the first two quadrants. They have little power to effect us. How we respond to them depends on how much power we have over them. Quadrant I -- Irrelevance: Here we find matters which don't have any true effect on us, and over which we have little power. I have plenty of opinions about the Bosnia situation, private militias, and the proper raising of twins, but unless I make one of these things my business (by joining an advocacy group or adopting twins), my opinions don't mean much. Yet, like many people, I can spend a surprising amount of energy on matters that belong in Quadrant I. The goal for Quadrant I is simply to recognize the matters that properly belongs here as the energy sinks that they are -- and to scan for matters that could become newly relevant, such as a technological change that may hit the market next year, or pending healthcare reform legislation. Quadrant II -- Stewardship: We have more power over these changes than they have over us. Changes that deal with children, subordinates and employees, for instance, often fall in this category. Too often, it feels like we can safely give changes in these unequal relationships only minimal attention. But here, unlike in Quadrant I, we do have a relationship, and everything with which we have a relationship has a reciprocal power over us. The power of unequal relationships can be deceptive -- and the more unequal they are, the more deceptive they can be. When they suddenly reveal that we have less power over them than we

thought, as in a strike or an adolescent rebellion, it is easy to respond with moral outrage, as if the foundations of all that is good and right had been overturned. The goal for Quadrant II is two-fold: to honor our responsibility, and to give away some power. A subordinate who has no options and can make no choices is dangerously disconnected from the relationship, and can only express themselves through subversion and rebellion. Quadrant III -- Engagement: Some changes have enormous power over us, and we can't do much to effect them -- a hurricane, new tax laws, a shift in reimbursement rules, changes in the population mix of your service area. Here again we have twin goals. The first: don't get hurt. Train's coming, get off the track. Make the organizational changes you need to minimize your exposure, and make them rapidly, before you feel the full effects, not after. The second goal: discover what's in it for you. When you're on the track, the train is a deadly danger. Step a little to one side, it's a passing freight, and maybe you'd like a free ride across town. If I want to take that free ride, though, I have to stay close to the train. Simply running from difficult changes is rarely effective. Quadrant IV -- Leverage: Finally, there are the changes which can affect us -and which we can affect equally. This quadrant represents the "key change area," where we are most vulnerable, yet we also stand to gain the most. Again, the first goal is: get out of the way. The second: search for the point of maximum leverage, where you can shift the momentum of the change in a direction that you would like it to go.

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