I found time this week to sort through some of my old slide decks. This was partly because I am presenting at a Conference next week and needed to finalise my talk, and partly because I wanted to. Although all the slides were in My Documents folder on my laptop….they were all over the place.
The unintended consequence was that I ended up looking at some of those old decks in much more detail than I had planned. An activity that proved to be enjoyable and stimulating on many levels – how much my style has changed; how much the decks reminded me of what we were doing, and who with, at the time; and how much change there has been.
This extent of change struck me partly because of the variety of projects, people, portfolios and processes on which I had presentations, but also because of the number of decks I had that simply talked about Change. I had slides on the change curve, change switch, change management, change agility, change communication, change systems, change fatigue, change resistance, change resilience and change skills…to name but ten!
All of these change words and pictures made me wonder. I have always thought of myself as someone who copes well with change…sometimes I have even gone so far as believe that I enjoy change. Really? We will see. I know for sure that one way or another I have more change rushing towards me at pace, and maybe more significant change than I have faced before.
I find that coping with change often involves coping with ambiguity and uncertainty. My sense is that these words describe very different aspect of change. A situation would be ambiguous if we can interpret – or view – it more than one way. A situation full of uncertainty is one that creates a sense of doubt. Uncertainty is an individual experience – it’s a perception we have about a situation we are experiencing.
Maybe this then is part of a way to cope with change – avoid any feeling of doubt. Or perhaps, more specifically, focus energy on areas and aspects of which we are certain. For example, I have no doubt – indeed I am completely certain – that I will be working in the pharmaceutical industry at the end of 2012. I know that I will be working with superb colleagues doing outstanding science and making significant impact on projects.
My approach to ambiguity is to seek to clarify the situation I am in or – again more specifically – to clarify the options available associated with the situation I am in. And this would also be consistent with why I value the input and opinions of others as much as I do. I have my own views and opinions of a situation…of my situation…but what do others see? What do they think could, or will, happen.
And last but not least this would also be consistent with the choices I make about people I engage with, or look to, at times of change. I seek out colleagues who are intrinsically positive. I seek out colleagues who look for good; colleagues who are excited by change and colleagues who can provide positive context. I look for colleagues who energise and inspire me.
We all cope with change. It is in our nature. Maybe in reality when we observe someone who copes well with change we are really saying that these people help us cope better with change. They help us to see opportunity.
I like the idea that I cope well with change. I much prefer the idea that I can help others through change.