I’ve been sharing some of the experiences I’ve had as I transition my approach to time management. I’m liking the system that I have moved to. While it takes a different approach to some of the principles that I use and apply, I understand the choices that have been made and why. And I can see the value of many of them. What has been most relevant in this overall transition, though, is not that I have a shiny new piece of software. The essential change is a result of developing new habits about how I use and rely on the system that I have.
We all work through change at some point in our lives. More to the point, we frequently experience change, and often several changes at the same time. As universal as the experience is, there is precious little guidance on how to make it through. This is not a rational, linear process. There is a starting point and an ending point, and what happens in between is anything but predictable and easy. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t structures that we can understand, and ways through that we can find. We just need to know where to look.
I wrote last week about the transition that I was undertaking to a new approach to time management. At the time, I presumed it would be a relatively easy change to make. I knew I needed new software. I thought that I already had the practices and concepts down. I believed that I had ample time to get things sorted and organized in time for the new year. I was wrong on all counts.
It is a little astonishing how often people presume that change can be forced. In particular, there’s an assumption that all that’s required is for senior management to tell everyone what to do, and they’ll do it. You can try. I guarantee it won’t work; at least, it won’t work for long. Leadership has a role, but it’s not the one you think.
Words have power. When we create change—and when we build processes—words become particularly important. Not for how we sell the process (although that’s also significant), but for how we define and think about the process itself. Taking the time to get words right is some of the most meaningful work we do in managing change.
Change is a process. And while it is a difficult one, it doesn’t need to be quite so painful and messy as what we often experience. Better navigating change requires recognizing that most of the transition happens in the space between what was and what will become. We need to let go, and be guided through that transition. That requires rethinking some of what we know and believe about projects and change.