Friday 3 August 2012

A key to thriving on the challenges of change is unlearning

In conceiving and achieving highly successfully change initiatives with my clients for more than 20 years one action stands out as a contributor to success - the willingness of people to unlearn.

Have you had a change of heart lately?

Have you changed your mind about something you previously held dear lately?

Have you changed your intention recently?

I worked with one client for a few years.  The culture completely changed over that time.  A few people left because they didn’t fit the new ethos.  Most people stayed, over a period of time changing their beliefs about the organisation, what it stood for and what it stood against.  A lot of unlearning took place.  All change is personal first.

I am currently working with a client who has taken over another organisation whose culture is at odds with their new owner.  A lot of personal change is taking place.  Relationships are changing too.  Relationship change follows personal change.  Many people are having to unlearn what they previously held dear.

There is a lot of talk about industries that are dying.  There is very little talk about the fact that many people previously employed in these industries are now working in another industry or creating new industries.  There is an entrepreneurial revolution happening.

If your business is producing widgets it is only a matter of time before someone will produce it faster and cheaper.

Strategic positioning happens in two ways.  You either do what no one else is doing (very hard to do) or you do what others are doing, you just do it better, differently or more uniquely and you are clear on who you do it for, your niche or micro-niche.  The key to this second way to gain strategic positioning is obviously people.

I worked with a client once who was involved in a merger.  The numbers looked great.  When I suggested due diligence on the people needed to be as detailed as it was on the numbers, I initially got blank looks. 

I could clearly see a culture clash and unless careful consideration and planning went into enabling personal and relationship change then the merger would fail like more than 70% do, the same failure rate of change initiatives.

Personal change precedes relationship change which precedes organisational change.

The biggest unlearning that needs to happen as a general rule is by business owners and leaders.  The old plan, do, measure and control management is dead.

As I discussed in a previous article people and change can’t be managed so we need to stop trying.

What do you need to unlearn?

What isn’t working and how could you change it?

Have you had a change of heart lately?

Have you changed your mind about something you previously held dear lately?

Have you changed your intention recently?

Change yourself, change your relationship.  Change in your organisation follows.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


I work with business owners and leaders employing more than 20 people to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

I am conducting a never-to-be-repeated workshop on Enhancing Their Gifts in Melbourne on September 5th.  Details are here.

If you can’t make it to Melbourne on September 5th please subscribe to the complimentary Enhancing Their Gifts™ short online course here.

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