Change Monster

June 5, 2015 0 Comments

If you worked for me in the last 10 years, you’ve seen this illustration of the change process.  It’s from my favorite book on change management, Change Monster, by Jeanie Daniel Duck*.  When I was a corporate leader, I was accountable for innumerable changes in an organization which had a new senior managers, with new ideas, and new initiatives every couple of years.  I used this illustration of the change process in many discussions.

Change Monster, by Jeanie Daniel Duck

Change Monster, by Jeanie Daniel Duck

I’m not in the corporate world any more, yet, the reality of change remains.  Change is inevitable, change is hard, and change is liberating. Change is the only constant in our lives.

These days, Time and my Body are the two driving change forces in my life. My current challenges include living fully, yet making sure my money lasts one day longer than I do.  I am more aware of how I take care of my health knowing that one big health issue has the potential of creating a whole new, and potentially, scary set of challenges.  I am also learning new things.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my first few Push-Hands sessions.  Push-Hands is the third fundamental of Tai Chi mastery.  Meditation and Forms are the other legs of the three-legged stool.  I’m at loss for providing a simple YouTube illustration of Push-Hands.  This video will have to serve as a simple example.

I waited almost a year before taking up Push-Hands.  The close physical contact, seemingly combative style, and awareness that the other Push-Hands player is “listening” to my body language set me off.  When I agreed to begin practice it was because my teacher, Ruth Kneile, counseled that I would never reach my full potential in Tai Chi forms until I learned Push-Hands. Then I read a quote by Master Yang Yang, “Push-Hands s is a training system that is done in the spirit of a game…you should approach Push-Hands with the attitude of nurturing both self and partner.”  Obviously, my first step was to change my attitude toward the goals of Push-Hands.

I’ve practiced Push-Hands for a couple of months now.  Although I’m a person who generally picks up new information and skills readily, Push-Hands has frustrated me.  I still step on my partner’s feet, I forget how to reverse direction, and sometimes I don’t know which foot I should be moving.  I won’t even comment on hand placement.  Gaaaaak!

Last week, I realized that my struggles are much like those I had during my corporate life…change management.  Remembering the lessons I learned years ago provides the insight I need to continue and, eventually, break through this discipline.

Psychological Impact of Change

Psychological Impact of Change from the Change Monster by Jeanie Daniel Duck

Ms. Duck’s Five Phases of Change as they apply to my Push–Hands challenge:

My Anxiety was fear of unknown.  Will I be comfortable in close physical contact and sensory feedback.

I was in Stagnation before I started learning the form.  My progress in Tai Chi and Qigong and meditation were moving forward, but I wasn’t as interested or as energized as form adjustments became more subtle.  Breaking old habits became less than exhilarating practice.  Push-Hands became my hope for an antidote to sameness.

I moved in to, and continue to drift in and out of, Preparation as I review the lessons in my mind, watch YouTube videos and read about the philosophy and history of PushHands.

I am also in Implementation practicing each week with my teacher, Sunny, and other Push Hands players, Ruth, Janet and Linda.

Based on past experience, I know I will have to work hard on Determination.  There were hard corporate lessons when priorities, business and staffing models changed often and dramatically.  It was a tumultuous corporate stint.  I also remember childhood conversations with my Fifth Grade Teacher, Mrs. Burke.  She knew I could write with more complexity than I was doing or even believed I could.  It was a long, long fifth grade year.

Will my Push-Hands training also be difficult?  Fruition will be a moving target as my Push-Hands practice matures.  To get to this point, I must stay the course and recognize Crisis when it enters the scene.

There are several obstacles to Change, no matter what the goal.

Creating a vision that is too complex or not relevant.

Failing to succinctly define outcomes expected.

Getting buy-in from stakeholders.

Staying the course to fruition when the inevitable Crisis Point is reached.

The Crisis Point

In change initiatives, there is most likely a fork in the road,  a Crisis Point.  Frustrations occur, life throws a curve, expectations turn out to be unrealistic or events dictate a directional change. Great companies and stalwart individuals wanting to do things differently choose the path of fruition where adjustments are made and plans move forward. Statistically speaking, about 20% of planned change initiatives come to full fruition.  For about 80% of change initiatives, plans are abandoned and are replaced with stagnation or the next “Great” Change Initiative.   For me and my Push-Hands, I expect I’ll hit several Crisis points where I ask my self questions like “is this worth the time and effort”, “will you ever be as good as (other person)”, “oooh, a shiny new Tai Chi discipline, I think I’ll do that”, “or, what am I doing wasting my time and my money?”

It will be determination, small successes and the great support of my Push-Hands and Tai Chi friends that will move me forward.

I hope you will take 10 minutes today and ask yourself about the Change initiatives in your life.  You have them, whether you realize it or not.  Do you know what they are?  Do you have a path to fruition? How will you bring about results that enrich and comfort you in your day-to-day?


*Please note:  The examples Ms. Duck uses in her book are somewhat out of date.  She published the book in 2001.  She talks about Chrysler and Jack Welsh’s GE initiatives as her examples. Some of my former associates would also understand that I have no love for the Ms. Duck’s employer, Boston Consulting Group.  Yet there is substance, logic and timelessness in the Change Monster Model that is worth at least the cost of the book on Kindle and a few hours reading.



About the Author:

First born, awkward teenager, young professional, wife, Momma, divorced wife, Grammy, wife (again), business owner, Fortune 500 Corporation executive, career coach, reader, writer, fly fisher, joke teller, fast driver, INFJ, Aquarius, Feng Shui hobbyiest, Starbucks drinker, Tai Chi/Qigong practitioner and teacher, Iowan....Of all my labels, momma, grammy and wife are the most cherished

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