The negative power of change
I’ve written before about my loathing for the disproportionate use of the term “disrupt”. It is a lazy, attention seeking way of trying to be heard in a world where innovative, creative thinking is at a minimum and noise and kerfuffle cloud the air of rationality. In many ways, disrupt is the bastard offspring of “change” – another overly used terms that was bandied around liberally with the hope of appearing clean and fresh and new.
Most genuine disruption and change which involves humans is potentially painful. That’s why placing it in the hands of people who fail to understand these consequences is both dangerous and naive. It is also why I have fundamental reservations about anyone who professes to “love change”. Maybe some change, but all change?
The are organisations that have become dependent on change as a means of defining their purpose. They move from restructure, to initiative, to strategic review without stopping to take a breath. These are not the agile or adaptable organisation that they would hope to be, but instead lost and rudderless placing bet after bet hoping that one of them will come home without realising the quantum of their losses.
That is not to say that organisations shouldn’t seek to change, progress and develop. It is not to say that they shouldn’t seek to innovate, create and (maybe) have some disruptive force. But the overriding question has to be, “for what purpose?” What is the reason that we are doing this, what are the imperatives that we need to take in to account, what will be the difference that we will see at the end and how will we know whether we’ve achieved it?
The practices that we use to achieve this, the way in which we work to solve the problems, the means by which we measure and assess will all change, but the overriding context should not. The most agile and adaptable of organisations hardly need to talk about change or disruption, they’re making a million small and seemingly indiscernible improvements every year to be better.
Ultimately, when we’re talking about human lives, when we’re talking about human existence and experience, we need to be respectful, mindful and thoughtful about the implications on everyone within an ecosystem of the actions that we take. Loving change is one thing when you’re doing it, another when it is being done to you.