Can you remember a time at work when you had one change to deal with? One major project? One major transition to work through? Maybe you can. But if so, I’ll bet it was quite some time ago. We don’t any longer have projects presented to us with clear start dates, crescendos, ramp-downs, endings, wrap ups, breaks, then new project kickoffs, crescendos, ramp-downs, endings, wrap ups, breaks, etc. In fact, the sound of such a cycle sounds funny or ridiculous to us!
Our cycle looks different. Our pace is different. Our volume is different. In fact, change isn’t the same anymore.
Change has changed.
In my view, it’s not really change that we deal with so often in our workplaces now. By definition, change is an alteration or deviation of state or condition. It’s a difference. Something was one way, and now it’s another. Picture a light switch — first it’s up and the light is on, then it’s down and the light is off. That’s change. But that is generally not the nature of the culture we live in at work, is it?
Does this fit the kind of motion or turbulence you see in your organization? I’m betting it doesn’t fairly represent the ongoing or long-term shift that happens with each bit of newness introduced with a policy, computer system, product line . . . it’s transition that we live in now.
It’s continuous, overlapping, accelerated, transition (“COAT”).
With the half-life of technology, competition at our heels, and increasingly savvy consumers, there is no time for breaks between innovations, or initiatives. We are constantly, continuously improving, innovating, and in transition. We no longer have the luxury of starting this and endings. So these transitions naturally overlap.
When was the last time you heard someone at work say, “I feel like I’m drinking from a fire hose!”? Chances are good that it was recently. This speaks to the increasing volume of change and transition. But it also speaks to speed, to acceleration. And, this is what I believe makes many of us feel so we can’t catch our breath, individually and organizationally.
Once we realize that we are living in the state of continuous, overlapping, accelerated, transition, I’d like to suggest that we decide to
live gracefully with this transition, instead of externalizing change and seeing it as the enemy.
This is a shift in mindset that can change your experience of daily work life and can impact those around you.