Four Quotes to Juice up Your Change Project

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Wondering why your change project isn’t going as planned? Here’s few insights on making sustainable progress…starting with the quotes.

  • ‘A powerful question alters all thinking and behaving that occurs afterwards.” Marilee Goldberg
  • ‘Change is happening all the time. Our role is to identify useful change and amplify it.’ Gregory Bateson
  • ‘The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.’ William James
  • ‘People are trying to collaborate all the time…just not each other’s way’ Jim Duval

Tell me more, I hear you saying…

  • ‘A powerful question alters all thinking and behaving that occurs afterwards.”

In Solution Focus we call them ‘better questions’. For better change management questions, see below.

  • ‘Change is happening all the time. Our role is to identify useful change and amplify it.’

Resisters, (let’s call them traditionalists) have always previously engaged in change – they just don’t fully realize it. So, we can ask them, ‘When you achieved change on (project name) in the past, what worked?’ This helps them self-identify their under-utilized change skills. The leader then asks, ‘Suppose we used those skills on our new change project, what would happen?’

  • ‘The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.’

Humans are experts in telling you about the problems that prevent them from making progress, and it’s usually the other person. Overlooking the problem conversation is often difficult, but when we do we can ask, ‘So, what would you like to do instead?’, or “If the problem went away, what would be happening?” Their answers start to define what they want, i.e., their goal

  • ‘People are trying to collaborate all the time…just not each other’s way’

Organizations are full of people trying to collaborate, but because they have only a few shared goals (usually elusive), and many diverse goals, they appear to be in conflict with each other. They are using their own unique collaboration model, not a shared one. So, try this question, ‘Suppose we achieve (shared goal), what will we be doing to achieve that?’ and ‘How will that be useful in achieving the goal?’

Points to remember when you use these questions

  • Ask not tell (listen!)
  • Remember they are the expert not you
  • You do not need to have all the answers
  • Find the resources and small steps will follow
  • Enable people to realize and own the choices they have

Thanks to my colleague Mark McKergow for introducing me to the first three quotes and for framing the points to remember

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