My father-in-law spent his entire career as a dairy farmer. My wife, having been raised on a farm, would constantly remind me that when milking the most important thing was to approach the cow slowly, so as not to startle it. I found it interesting that cows were extremely sensitive to any unusual movement or change in their schedule, yet didn’t seem to mind having several small stainless steel tubes all yielding a significant amount of suction, stuck to their udders. According to my father-in-law, the reason this seemingly unpleasant experience did not bother the cattle is because they are quickly acclimatized, becoming accustomed to the prodding, poking, and other intrusions that are the natural part of the milking process.
Humans, like cows and other species roaming the earth, are creatures of habit. We can adapt to even the most uncomfortable environments because we become accustomed to them. They become our new normal. Interestingly, despite the lack of logic and discomfort that our present norm may provide, we perceive anything that threatens to change this norm, on a personal or organizational level, as undesirable. We will even fight to avoid the change regardless of logic.
The key to introducing and managing change is to recognize that despite the lack of desire to change, the objective is to form a new norm, one that others will in time become accustomed too and comfortable with. Simple in concept, but an approach that takes time, patience and a bit of tenacity. Hence why most change initiatives change. We seek a quick and painless approach.
How can you approach change to formulate a new norm but not startle others in your approach? If you factor this simple concept into your planning, your new desired norm will evolve faster than you expect.
© Shawn Casemore 2014. All rights reserved.
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