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Kelly Odell

- A blog for leaders
7 Dec 2009

The Gospel of Change Management

Getting to the Heart of Change

Early in life I spent four years at college studying theology and religion because I thought I wanted to enter the ministry. I changed my mind and didn’t attend seminary and have never worked in the ministry. When I moved to Sweden I did an MBA at the Stockholm School of Economics. I have now spent more than 25 years in various management positions and the last 12 years as a public speaker, workshop leader and teacher in the subjects of leadership and change management. Since some of my speaking agents have played up the “preacher” angle when selling me I thought it would be fun to play with some of the “religious” lingo to package my message. The following are not really meant to be comprehensive and may not be quite clear without all the stories and examples I usually give to explain them. But if you find any value in them feel free!

The Golden Rule of Organizational Change:

If you feel the need to make major changes in your organization, don’t do it!

Ten Commandments of Change

If you feel compelled to make major changes in your organization despite the Golden Rule, then make sure to follow the Ten Commandments of Organizational Change.

1. Remember that change is inevitable. In any given situation we have only three alternatives:

i. Accept the situation

ii. Change the situation

iii. Change situations

2. Be open-minded! Change is in itself neither good nor bad! Some changes affect us positively, some negatively and some not at all.

3. Remember, that there are primarily three types of change: Influence what you can and adapt to the rest!

-Those changes we initiate ourselves

-Those changes we did not initiate but over which we have great influence

-Those changes we did not initiate and over which we have little or no control

4. Focus on the human side of change!

Change requires “real” new behavior not just new actions. “It is easier not to smoke a cigarette than it is not to want to smoke a cigarette.”

5. Control your destiny!

Although we cannot always directly influence change we can influence on how the change affects our lives through our attitudes and actions.

6. Never initiate change simply for the sake of change!

Change should only be initiated when absolutely necessary with a real desire to make things better!

7. Be inquisitive! The three fundamental questions driving change:

Where am I now? It is ok to be happy where you are!

Where do I want to be? You don’t necessarily have to change anything!

How do I get there? Go back and re-think the first two points before developing your plan of action!

8. Base you decisions on facts. Intuition is better than no information at all but facts are always better.

9. Be courageous! Don’t worry if you don’t succeed the first time. Change is difficult but it is never too late to try again!

10. Be persistent! Those who succeed are not those who never fail, they are the ones who never give up!

The Paradox of Change

The outcome of change is difficult to foresee. Sometimes those changes that appear to be most negative in the short-term bring the most long-term benefit and those changes that seem most desirable in the short-term are not necessarily best for us in the long-term.

1 Response

  1. Nicely done, Kelly. I’d love to hear one of your keynotes someday.

    As a faith-filled Org Change Guy, I have long been attuned to the messages about change that thread through the four Gospels. For example:

    – “Repent for the kingdom is near” – Repent (from the Greek metanoia) means to turn one’s self around, to change one’s mind

    – “He said to him, ‘Follow me.'” – Conversion, from fisherman or tax collector, into apostle, can be quite dramatic, even astonishing to onlookers who can’t quite figure out what has happened

    – “Go and sin no more” – Forgiveness is perhaps one of the most poignant forms of change in that, when we forgive, we are choosing to let go of some past pain that we have been dragging around with us

    – “With that their eyes were opened” – Whether one of His miraculous sight-giving cures, or in this case, the “aha moment” of the disciples walking the road to Emmaus, the Gospels contain moments of blazing awareness that signal decisive inner changes

    Indeed, one could say, without much exaggeration, that the Gospels are about change.


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