"I've always dreamed of being an old philosopher. So far I've achieved one out of two!"

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A.S.K. for Success!

This information excerpted from "Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge for Success!"
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Why Technologists Resist Change

Directly from the book
Chapter 19. Embrace Change.

Today is certainly different than yesterday and tomorrow will no doubt be different than today.

Change is inevitable. It is said, change is the only constant in the universe. Change is one experience in life everyone has in common. When change is offered to us, or thrust upon us, for the most part, we resist the change. It is comfortable to leave things the way they have always been. This "comfort zone" of our existence gives us protection from the rest of the world. It also prevents us from perceiving the opportunities seen only from a different viewpoint.

When things change, our perception lags behind. Our experience holds the patterns we use to find definition, understanding and comprehension. Using the past as a model, we perceive things as they always were. These models in life are called paradigms. Paradigms are the patterns of the way we perceive the world. Change is the changing or shifting of one or more paradigms. In other words we must be aware that:

Shifts Happen!

Paradigms and perception.

A paradigm is "an example serving as a model; pattern." Generally, paradigms are patterns held by groups of people. As individuals, we have our own patterns of reality. These patterns are just as powerful as any paradigm held by a larger group. Another word for these personal patterns of reality is perception.

Perception: "immediate or intuitive recognition."

Recognition: "the identification of something as having been previously seen, heard, known, etc."

By substituting the definition of recognition inside the definition of perception, perception then becomes "immediate or intuitive identification of something previously seen, heard or known."

We perceive the world through that which we have seen, heard and known - our experience. Things outside our experience have a difficult time becoming part of our acceptable reality because they don't fit, don't look right, don't sound right or don't make sense to us. In other words, these new experiences (changes) being offered do not match the model (paradigm) of the way things have been.

When your patterns of reality do not match the patterns of others, conflict occurs.

A paradigm can be so strong it will filter away anything not matching the known pattern. We are blind to the opportunities a new paradigm offers. When our paradigms change, our filters change and we are allowed to perceive something that was imperceptible in the past. The result of a paradigm shift is to see things as never before; to become aware of the obvious. Most people get through the "shift" of change by processing the new in terms of the old. They filter, modify, distort and reshape the new in an attempt to get it to match the patterns they can conceive. Seems to me, all of this is a great deal of work. Wouldn't it be easier to accept change, embrace it and get on with it? Obviously, from what we have learned, it is easier to say it than to do it. There are some techniques to help:

Listen - Review - Restate

Listen to others and your own self-talk for statements suggesting a change (shift) in the paradigm (filter). There are three primary ways people will indicate a perception has changed:

"Oh, I see your point now! I must have been blind not to see what you were showing me."

"Hmmm, I hear you now! I must have been deaf not to have heard what you were saying to me."

"Ah, I understand you now! I must have been numb not to sense what you were offering to me."

Review the information previously filtered away by the old paradigm whenever a shift is detected through one of the above or similar statements. This also applies when your internal thoughts are similar to the examples above. It is wise to go back several minutes, even hours or days to re-examine the issues, because up to the point the perception shifted, the information was not getting through literally!

Restate the elements of the change after the review. Do all the parties involved understand each other? Get agreement of the common perception (the new pattern or paradigm) before moving on. Assuming your thinking has now been changed through what you have learned in this chapter, the following will help summarize (review) what has been covered:

The weather is a great example of constant change. No matter where you travel in the world, the locals pride themselves in the fact their weather is unpredictable. They will tell you, "If you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes, it will change." The same is true of many things in life, "If you don't like the way things are, wait a while, they will change, and maybe you'll like things the new way." Sadly, the corollary is also true, "If you like the way things are, wait a while, things will change and you might not like the change." What many people have learned during their lives is this: most of the time we do not want things to change. We are accustomed to the way things are and to change things puts us into stressful situations as we explore the unknown territory of the "new way."

Change is around whether we like it or not; therefore, it is beneficial to take full advantage of change and the opportunities within the change.

Those who handle change with greater patience, more understanding, and less resistance have a greater possibility of succeeding as a result of the change.

Controlling unwanted change. When presented with a new way of doing something, if you feel the change is not for the best, you are faced with one of three possible paths.

1. Change it. If you have the power and authority to change things for the better, then do so!

2. Influence it. If you are not able to change things yourself, but are able to influence those who have the power and authority to change things, then get on with influencing them!

3. Embrace it. If you cannot change things yourself and you cannot influence those in authority, then get on with the change and stop resisting the inevitable! Resisting inevitable change is futile by definition.

People who expend energy resisting change, fall far behind the people who channel their energy into accepting the change and leading it.

Why technologists resist change.

Technical people tend to strongly resist change to the technology of their expertise. This is because they know (very well) the way things are. Any proposed change threatens the very thing that makes them an expert. Allowing change to take place puts the technologist in the vulnerable position of not knowing the way things are. There is the added fear that there may be others (peers, strangers, competitors) who know the intricacies of the new way better than the technologist does. Knowing more, the "others" may become more valuable than the technologist who knows and believes in the current way.

Success strategies for any change.

There are three things to do to be successful regarding change. First, become aware that

Without change we stagnate.

There once was a billionaire who decided to build a castle. To add to its charm a moat was built around the castle. It did not take long for the moat to become filled with algae and slime. It created quite a stink. The design was flawed. There was no provision to allow fresh water in and old water out. The moat become stagnant and the castle became unlivable. A better design would have been to frequently drain and refill the moat. Unfortunately, that also kills all the good little frogs and fishes in the moat. The best design of all allows the living creatures in the moat to survive, by continuously supplying fresh water and draining off the old. Successful people frequently let fresh ideas in and stale ideas out.

Second, become an advocate of change rather than an adversary. Learn all you can about the changes and the opportunities within it. Accelerate past the resistors and even past the instigators of the change.

Successful people take advantage of the opportunities within change.

Third, come to the realization that the only way to improve things is to change them.

If you continue to think

in ways you've always thought,

you'll continue to get

what you always got!

Strategies for dealing successfully with inevitable change:

  • Since it is inevitable - Embrace it.
  • Learn what is needed. Seek to learn even more. Learn it.
  • Become an advocate for the change. Lead it!
  • Accelerate past those who resist. Surpass the expertise of the instigators of the change.

(End of Chapter 19)

If you enjoyed this article and find it useful, please say thank you by purchasing a copy of ASK for Success! directly from me. Your support helps me continue to help you.

To help me in my research, consider giving me a call or sending me a note and answering these three questions:

  • 1. If you survived a downsizing (were kept by your company), how did you do it?
  • 2. If you did not survive a downsizing (were laid off), what tips would you give others who are about to go through what you did?
  • 3. How can a person lead others when job security is not there?

Please e-mail your ideas to Gerry Reid.