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Organisational and Individual Change Requires Space


Fellow change agents! Here’s an idea for you to ponder – “Space must exist before it can be filled.”

Just for a moment imagine a person’s life as a box. This box has a divider down the middle to separate their personal (or home) life from their professional (or work) life.

We don’t have to be a rocket scientists to realise that everybody’s box is full. The challenge for us stems from the idea that we can’t add water to a cup that’s full, just like we can’t put petrol in the tank of our car when the tank has no space in it.

One of the natural laws of life is that we tend to fill space.

People don’t have empty rooms in their house, no matter how big it is. Why? Because they have a strong overwhelming desire to fill empty spaces. We will go out and buy furniture and decorate an empty room, even if it never gets used.

So how does that relate to change in a business?

Here’s something to think about. We roll out some major company initiative. Let’s say that initiative is business improvement.

We do so in an organisation where everyone’s boxes are full.

You get hit with the “I don’t have time for this, I’m already busy!” or “How am I going to fit this in, I’m up to my neck in work?

Of course the box is full, you’ve only got to ask them to find out this is true. Their perception is they have no space for this new thing. This is compounded by them not having any real understanding of why they need to change in the first place.

So what happens?

Well you push and you push … you throw skills at people, you develop their capability, you tell them what you want to achieve, you tell them what they have to do …. but it seems they can’t fit it in their daily grind.

As long as we throw something at people that requires space and they perceive there is no space, it won’t be sustainable. You might think it is but let’s go full circle here ….. they just don’t not have the same perception as you.

They must create the space before you can fill it!


Change Requires Space

That’s your challenge; being able to help an organisation create that space, being able to help people in your organisation cut back on what takes up their time now so they have room for improvement.

If you can achieve that, then and only then are you going to create a vacuum for your initiative.

One final thought.

If you truly want to succeed in your business improvement efforts, you must change first. You must know how to create the space for change yourself and to do that you must know how to lead yourself to new ways of thinking.

Adapted from George Lee Sye’s 2011 publication – People, Leadership, Growth – this thinking underpins some of the training delivered through our School of Business Execution.

AOBIL-PLH is a Professional Learning Hub developed by George Lee Sye. Course content is offered at no charge, you only pay for his time and any printing necessary to deliver a product to you. If you’re committed to achieving your own career potential, it’s worth a visit – Click Here.
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