Change is not liked…particularly by those who invented, inherited, or are invested in the “dominant paradigm”!
Everyone who has attempted to bring daylight to situations that needed reform – whether minor or major – has experienced the rising temperature in the room when such needs are put on the table for discussion. “Change? We don’t need no stinkin’ change!” is too often the response!
Professional services innovator Fred Stitt mapped out one process of reform as an insightful “five stage trail” (which to me, too often seems like a “trial”?) in his old Guidelines newsletter, July, 1987:
1. No Response to the Problem Statement
4. Acceptance with “Compromise”
5. Final General Acceptance
Fred Stitt cautioned that these stages are “more constructive than they seem to the reformer” since changes, though often not obvious, are underway from the beginning of the process as part of the normal human learning process.
For an idea to survive the journey down that “trail”, its sponsors must have persistence that is built upon planning and equipping for the entire journey. Of course, the journey is not worth the effort if the sponsor does not have integrity, knowledge, experience and stamina to some degree. If you lack a profoundly moral and ethical target or goal, and a goal that is not merely self-serving, you may consider more study and introspection before you head out to the Trailhead! Stitt served up a few chronological and periodic refreshment guidelines to help along the way:
- “State the potential ‘problems’ of the status quo
- At intervals, restate the problem and possible solutions
- Find others who support your idea and team up to listen to objections
- If the idea still has enough apparent merit, an acceptable compromise…may evolve, and that may suffice
- The compromise version may flounder… Then move in for the final push.”
Compromises usually do flounder, and in the passion to seek agreement often give up on key values that ought to be non-negotiable. Therefore, do not consider “compromise” as a target or goal. Where a compromise may seem necessary, always consider it to be only part of the reform process, and make that clear to all participants, particularly to yourself!
Never give up on or compromise core principles, goals, ethics or morality on the path to solving a problem, delivering a solution. And, once you reach a good, meet and proper goal, be prepared for the long haul of sustaining and maintaining it. “Benign neglect” is not a worthy continuation of your hard work.
It helps to ask “what does this mean” at every step, and to remember the working definition of Reformation:
Rescuing from error and returning to a rightful course.