Fellow change agents take note! '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 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.
HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO CHANGE IN A BUSINESS?
Well it's like this... we roll out some major company initiative. Let's say that initiative is business improvement.
We do so in an organisation where everyone's day is jam packed full of to dos.
We 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. When things on the table have their full attention, and our add on has less urgency, it just won't hold their focus.
You might think it will but let's go full circle here..... they simply don't 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.
The content here is drawn from George Lee Sye's 2011 publication - 'People Leadership Growth' - available as an eBook for both Kindle and iPad.
Kindle Version - click here
IBooks Version - click here