Adaptive Change

May 23, 2010

Change is hard and yet more than ever we’re surrounded by a need to change.  The vehicle(s) that got you where you are today is increasingly faced with not just a need for a tune-up or even a newer model, but often a completely new mode of transport.  That is, different ways to view, analyze, and navigate through life.

Change for change sake is generally not the answer, nor is trying to find one’s comfort zone and cruising through life on auto-pilot.  Does past history, experience, and knowledge count for anything?  Sure it does, if you don’t let it blind you to new opportunities and ways of looking at things.  Adaptive Change is the type of change and challenge to seek out as we push ourselves to continually grow, develop, and sustain our energies and passions in life.

Just as Professor Heifetz talks of the “possibility of loss . . . generating resistance” in the link above, Seth Godin repeatedly refers to the lizard brain in his new book Linchpin.  Fear, in many forms, often holds us back and yet pushing through that fear to scale new heights and try new things is what often leads us to newer and better opportunities.

While it’s been a few months since I heard this sermon, I appreciate Andrew Warner’s bringing Heifetz’ notions of adaptive versus technical change to my attention.  While it’s generally easier to follow a road map versus drawing your own, the latter can help you determine if there’s a better way.  Are you creating your own paths and ways to get where you want to go or just trying to follow the worn-out roads of those that went before?

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Where do you hang out?

August 7, 2009

It’s been a few weeks since I read Seth Godin’s post on “social norms”, but it made an impression on a couple of levels:

1) On a macro level it reminded me of what I’ve tended to call the phenomenon of people hanging out with “like types”.  We hang out w/ people from the same class at school, with the same interests, those that went to the same college, single people hang w/ other singles, married people/no kids w/ other dinks, married people w/ children hang w/ the parents of their kids friends, etc.

2) In the more immediate sense, as someone frequently overloaded with the explosion of communication tools that can make one look like a Luddite for “only” using a cell phone and e-mail, it becomes confusing as to where & how to find and get in touch with people that you need to connect with.

The second one, to me at least, is more or less where Seth’s blog is aimed: if you want to connect with someone (personally, professionally, or both) you need to figure out where they “hang out”.  If they have 1000’s of followers on Twitter and tweet in the double digits every day, then they might not be reading your e-mails but a clever @theirtwittername reply might get their attention.  On the other hand, if they think twitter is something that birds do then their channel’s not tuned to your twitterverse if that’s where you’re hanging out.  Ditto for Facebook, LinkedIn, texting, e-mail, voicemail, IM, snailmail, etc.  Think about how they’re communicating, or not, with you and others and figure out how to get in sync using the same method they’re using.  Or, as Godin puts it act “the way they do”.  If you’re not sure, and it’s somebody that’s important for you to connect with then ask around of others that may know them better.  Kind of like figuring out what bar somebody’s hanging at on campus, or what club, neighborhood, favorite lunch place, coffee shop, you get the picture . . .

Seems simple enough, but can be hard to execute if you’re in multiple places using multiple channels of communication (guilty as charged, although I like to think of it as being multi-lingual – others would call it scattered!).  Also, don’t be offended or feel like somebody doesn’t “like you” when they’re not responding to your voicemail, e-mail, commenting on your Facebook status, etc.  They could easily be suffering from information and communication overload, or they could be hanging out somewhere besides where you’re trying to find them.  So, for those you want to reach on a regular basis, figure out where they like to play and go join them there.  Keep in mind that it can change over time or frequently if they use multiple modes of communication.  Better yet, get out and meet them in person (IRL).


Old v New, Long v Short

June 17, 2009

Earlier this week, I was at a conference where Ted Koppel gave the keynote address on the final day of the meeting.  His basic theme was that we’ve been living in an “age of entitlement”, not just recently but probably dating back 20 years or so.  The audience was career college administrators and teachers and he scored points with citing examples of students “entitlement” behavior but also talked more broadly about how this entitlement mentality has helped put us in this global economic recession.

He also bashed Twitter, specifically related to the disputed election results in Iran.  I’ve come to like Twitter in many ways, but like all forms of communication and media it has its limitations.  I’m not informed enough about the current Iranian situation to comment on it, so I won’t.  That was ultimately the gist of his Twitter rant, although I also think part of it was his admitted low tech approach to the news.  Personally, I think you need to get under the hood and understand current technologies before you throw stones at them, just as the digital natives shouldn’t reject all “old” methodologies as inherently flawed.

The latter was a big part of his point about serious, credible journalism versus the over saturation of fluff (my words, not his) that comes at us via the mainstream media.  He admitted to preferring paper and NPR over the Internet and cable TV.  I prefer my Kindle, iPhone, and laptop for information but I still want substance and depth of analysis.  Reflecting on it later, I think a real challenge moving forward is not so much new (media, methods, business models, etc.) trumping old but whether long-term (visionary, ideal-driven) thinking can push aside the pressures and demands of short-term (what’s in it for me now?) thinking.  To me, the latter is part of where we’ve ended up in terms of Koppel’s “age of entitlement” analogy.  We do want more for less, but we also want it now!  Yes, results matter, but so does thoughtful, reasonable dialog and discourse as opposed to the “you suck” v. “no, you suck more” mentality that drives so much of the public debate these days.