The Disciplines of Managing Change in Human Systems
On behalf of creating effectiveness within each of the prescribed stages of change, the eight disciplines are important. They are: Conscious Use of Self, Systems Thinking, Sound and Current Data, Feedback, Infinite Power, Learning from Differences, Empowerment, and Support Systems. These disciplines directly support the notion of the empowerability of human systems and the people that live and work within them. Accordingly, they also support the use of collaborative strategies and tactics aimed at open communication and consensual decision-making. We call them disciplines because of their necessity. Bobby McFerrin in his tune “Discipline” chanted “for those who have been trained by it, no discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful.” We take that to reflect our experience that not being disciplined seems pleasant in it’s easiness, but painful when we don’t get the results we want.
Conscious use of self: #1 of Eight Disciplines for Planned Change
The primary tool that anyone wishing to manage change in a human system uses is the configuration of intellectual, emotional, and physical energies that we call our Self. Our Self includes our personality, our various abilities (particularly our ability to learn) and our idiosyncrasies. Most of us have only begun to recognize and develop full command of these energies. Most of us respond to many situations automatically. These automatic or habitual responses are the result of over-learning. Over-learning is the application of an appropriate learning from past experiences and applying it too broadly to every other set of similar situations. Over-learning gives us an automatic approach to life which works much of the time. Who need to be conscious of every step we take and every word we say? However, when we want to manage change in some human system to which we belong those automatic behaviors too often don’t work.
In the same vein, the way we define parts of ourselves as OK and other parts as not OK is another hindrance to effective use of self. Too often we deny the large portions of ourselves that we define as not OK. We want to see ourselves as male, not female or female, not male. We want to see ourselves as ‘nice,‘ never as ‘mean.’ In this manner, we deprive ourselves of the inherent flexibility that comes with the multiple aspects and attitudes that make up our fundamental integrity. We often judge ourselves harshly in ways that prevent us from using the totality of ourselves that could be needed to get the changes we want.
In the processes of effective change management we need all the personal flexibility we can muster. How we use ourselves in one situation with one person is not likely to be very effective in another, though similar situation. A part of that flexibility is the ability to notice when we might be mistaking our assumptions for real data. This is a pervasive pitfall in the world and in managing change in human systems. (More on this issue in a later blog in this series.)
Effective, Conscious Use of Self calls for learning how to be aware of and choose behavior that will be effective in the present situation. As we move with practice toward mastery, we will be more and more able to behave in such a manner that the systems within which we wish to manage change will respond in ways consonant with our goals and intention. Such mastery can be difficult and at times fraught with frustration. To help with those situations check out my next blog “Conscious use of self and Choice Points!” Learn to Make a Difference in the World of People, Teams, and Organizations http://bit.ly/zFCNfv