The “destination” and the “path”, the “where?” and the “how?”, the “vision” and the “strategy”.
When it comes to the science of change, my personal experience suggests that good resources on the topic tend to fall into one of two major categories:
They either paint an exciting end-state which makes the hardships of change worthwhile, or introduce you to an effective tool for driving change (regardless of your destination).
While some attempt to do both, the focus is significantly on one category, paying a bit more than lip service to the other. Pick almost any business book, and 9 out of the 10 chapters will be dedicated to one category, leaving a single chapter for the other. Even if the division of focus is more equal, the ground-breaking idea will fall squarely in one category and not the other. It is up to you, change-maker, to be the sommelier: pairing the exciting end-state with the tool that will help you get there.
Personal and professional growth and development, a favorite topic of mine in recent months, provides a perfect example:
The Leadership Circle Profile (LCP) provides an extremely exciting and detailed “end-state” of what shifting from “reactive” to “creative” might look like:
But in terms of giving me actionable guidance on how to improve “my interpersonal intelligence”, for example, it falls short. A single chapter of this fantastic 13-chapter book takes a stab at the specifics of change and stops at suggesting these 6 high-level practices:
- Discern purpose
- Distill vision
- Know your doubts and fears
- Engage in authentic, courageous dialog
- Develop intuition, open to inspiration
- Think systematically
To my rescue comes Immunity to Change (ITC):
I can start with my commitment to improving my “interpersonal intelligence”, and follow the process all the way to uncovering the big assumptions that are holding me back, allowing me to then design safe experiments that will enable me to start making real progress towards that objective.
Note that ITC in an of its own does not prescribe any sort of desired end-state — I can use it just as well to work on improving my “interpersonal intelligence” as improving my ability for “arrogance” if that was ever my goal…
The “destination” and the “path”, the “where?” and the “how?”, the “vision” and the “strategy” — pair them well, and great things await!