In April/May 1997 issue of Fast Company magazine, Charles Fishman wrote an article called “Change,” where he shared his “10 Laws of Change.” They are as follows:
1. Change begins and ends with the business - not with change.
2. Change is about people. People will surprise you.
3. There is information in opposition.
4. The informal network is as powerful as the formal chain of command. And you get to design your informal network.
5. You can’t draft people into change. They have to enroll.
6. It’s not a calling. It’s a job.
7. Forget balance. Create tension.
8. No change agent ever succeeded by dying for his [or her] company.
9. You can’t change the company without changing yourself.
10. Even if the company doesn’t change, you will.
In the mid to late 90’s, this was progressive thinking, challenging many to reconsider what they were doing and how they were leading. At the time, most leaders recognized they could not make change happen successfully or sustain the changes they wanted once they were initiated. Fishman’s perspective was eye opening and insightful.
Fourteen years later, most of the above “laws” have been blended into the work of numerous books and articles. On one level, the ideas seem old school and slightly dated. But upon further examination, they can be helpful reminders given the turbulence of the current economy.
As I have the opportunity to work with more and more young leaders, I am realizing that fewer and fewer of them have been exposed to the fundamentals of leadership and change. What for me and many senior leaders are self-evident truths are for these young leaders mind blowing new perspectives. For example, Fishman’s insight, “You can’t draft people into change. They have to enroll.”, is all new material for many young leaders. They have never heard this before and no one shared this with them when they got started. The concept of creating an environment where people want to enroll in change helps them to understand why certain changes have failed in the past and why certain leaders have chosen to go leading change in the manner they are doing it. At the same time, Fishman’s observation, “There is information in opposition.” also shifts the perspective of young leaders and helps them to comprehend that resistance is more about loss than change.
I share Fishman’s 10 Laws of Change here today for three reasons. First, I think we need to proactively use them as we teach young people to lead and deal with change related issues. Second, I think there is value in returning to the fundamentals and reviewing them from time to time. Often, for me, I rediscover a fresh way of explaining a key concept. Third, at times we can get a bit rusty or stuck in our ways. We become unconscious leaders and forget the basics as we push for speed with limited bandwidth to reflect.
This week and this month, I encourage all of us to review the above list and to share it with others. Clearly, it can be a spring board for sound and in-depth strategic dialogue.