Are we being chameleon-like as we adapt to our environment?    edited from Malachy Kavanagh

Our move is progressing. While the range of activities this involves is huge, the big one – moving out of our home and into the new one—happens this Saturday.  I continue to reflect on how this is a metaphor for organizational change. Here are some more of my thoughts.

1.  Complexity. As I consider elements of change  that are relevant to you as a nonprofit leader, I have been struck by how complex change is. There are many different elements of change and many different lenses through which to view and understand it. With this move we have, for example: selling a home, buying a home, clearing out years of stuff, giving things away, organizing things, discovering things!, communicating with family, friends, clients etc., changing our address, and on and on. Did I forget to mention packing??

What may seem at first to be an uncomplicated event for your nonprofit is likely multifaceted. William Bridges in his classic, Managing Transitions, coaches us to consider, during what may seem to be one change event:  What else will change?  The lesson is: don’t underestimate the complexity.

2.  Inspiration. Having a compelling vision of the future that you inspire others to share is what leaders do—what you do. Our move has inspired us to envision a different future. How will life be now? What do I want to create in our new environment?

3.  Shared values. I noted engagement as an element of managing change last time. As you work with others on organizational change (as I have worked with my husband on our change), the values that motivate you and the others you engage will emerge. Managing change effectively requires a focus on those values you share—finding your common ground. It also involves compromise as you adapt to what may be very important to someone else but less so for you. Articulating shared values provides a “glue” that can hold things together during a very disruptive complex time.

4.  It’s personal. There is an emotional reaction that we cannot predict or prevent. Our move was relatively sudden and, not anticipated, there are many other things to manage along with it. As I focus a lot on getting tasks done, I am also mindful of my emotions. Change brings loss. It brings feelings that range from excitement to feeling overwhelmed. Managing change effectively requires us to acknowledge both our heads and hearts are involved as are those of others. Be supportive and allow yourself and others to take a break, take care, and refresh as the process unfolds.

What changes are you leading? How do these reflections resonate (or not) with your experience? Please comment so we can expand on this conversation together.