Change is in the air. Big scale change from the US elections to the worldwide financial crisis and small scale change in each of us individually.
As I rumble around getting my coaching and training business up and running, I have been thinking about what it is I actually help people do and through a series of mind jumps, it finally came clear -- I help people manage change and even be transformed in the process. They can be expats living and working abroad who are up against massive change coming at them from 360°, or, like my Italian client coming over this evening, self-initiated change as she explores new professional paths.
So, what else do you do when a concept comes to mind, but plug it into google and have a wander. Somewhere on page two I downloaded an article from a professional Human Resources development journal on, "The Myth of Change Management: A reflection on personal change and its lessons for leadership development" by a guy named Jonathan Gravelis. After having spent a career implementing change in large organizations, he embarked on his own personal change and discovered that the usual goal-setting, programmatic approach to change does not address the messy reality that enacting change generally involves. The "five-step" ect. change models appeal to our desire for illusion that structure is all you need to change things successfully.
(This is all leading up to a great "lets leverage cultural differences" moment, so hang on.)
The stress of change stems from our unrealistic desire to predict and control the outcome (idea from another guy named Firth back in 1999). So, Jonathan asks, "Should we focus on helping people learn to live with a degree of anxiety, uncertainty and ambiguity?" While it's a good idea to have a plan for change, its also important to acknowledge the unpredictable results that will come from every action we undertake. "Constant re-planning and short-term tactical flexibility are as important in change as long-range strategies." "Adaptive leadership" is the buzz word.
Any of you readers that are living and working in Italy know exactly what he is talking about -- I even have a label to your right filled with blog posts on the exquisitely Italian skill of managing ambiguity and uncertainty (which, by the way they learn at school along with Greek and Latin).
Not to mention our perceived Italian "lack of planning" , that clearly acknowledges unpredictable results by relying on constantly adjusted "just in time" plans to account for new new input from a very mobile external environment.
While living and working abroad, why not pick up some "change management" skills by learning to embrace the ambiguity and uncertainty in your life and seek out the rationale for each just-in-time planning experience that comes your way.