Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Change is dead.

What?!? I hear you say.  Change is dead?  But isn't everybody talking about the pace of change, change management, how to be more resilient in the face of change?  And the Buddhists in the group are going, but, everything is change, change is all.  Yep.  And that's the point actually.

The problem, as i see it, is that the word, change, has gathered to itself a terrible gravity and that is creating a damaging and painful illusion.  Many people, if we're being honest about it, see change as what happens between the disruption of one status quo state and the emergence of another.  And that assumption/belief/mindset/illusion served us okay while we lived in a largely simple or complicated world.  The challenges we faced responded to analysis and our solutions were largely repeatable.  Solutions also tended to be effective over relatively long periods of linear time. Hence the illusion of a status quo state that experienced episodes of change.

Enter the age of complexity.  Our challenges are now complex.  They don't readily yield to analysis, but demand of us new skills like pattern seeking and new ways of working together like collaboration (yes, new, but that's another conversation).  Our solutions are seldom repeatable (although they may inform future challenges in an evolutionary way) as our challenges are embedded in unique contexts and histories.  Our solutions converge in an evolutionary flow, each leading us in a spiraling pattern to the next iteration of the challenge. No more home base.  No more status quo.

Welcome to chaos.  Complexity if that scares you less.  So, i say, "change is dead", to shake you awake.  To invite you to loosen your grip on the idea of the shore and take the plunge into the flow.  The pace of change isn't increasing. The degree of complexity is.  The distance between the temporary handholds in the stream flowing from evolving now to evolving now is lessening. I am inviting you to learn to swim before they disappear altogether. 

I am keeping some distance from the statement "change is all there is", because i am now seeing that as an illusion referencing an illusion.  I am proposing that the ever-emergent flow is all there is. Take that into your body for a moment and see if there is a different response.  

And how do we respond to that?  With self-organization, like we always have.  Like there was ever anything else.  Only now, we can choose to do it consciously.  We can choose to learn and create processes that leverage the power of emergence, of context, of relationship, of questions. So let go of change.  It is a concept that no longer serves us or our organizations.  It locks us in a jail of false hope and is creating increasingly disastrous consequences. We are simply in the flow of the ever-emergent.  We shape our present and future through our collective intention. Might as well step up and start taking responsibility for what you care about and see who else shows up.

The journey to this place is not simply one of mind. To thrive here, we need integrated mind/body/heart/soul systems. We need all channels online and functioning.  

Our organizations need a much better understanding of what level of response is necessary and how best to support those responses.  Change Management?--bah humbug! How about Complexity Response Management?  Or maybe Systems Resilience Patterning? Emergence Driven Strategic Leveraging?  Strangely Attractive Critical Juncture Processing? Okay, now i'm having too much fun.  What's your two-cents?

NB: A little esoterica for the aikidoka in the crowd:  ever-emergent flow: Takemusu.  (from calligraphy by O Sensei: Takemusu Aiki has descended and its energy can be felt everywhere.)

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