The New Questions For Systems Change

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“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”  -John F. Kennedy

In the overall scheme of things, our human created organizational systems have not really been in existence for that long.  And even in their infancy, they are still struggling to deal effectively with the tension of change that is being levied down upon them from a myriad of manners and directions.  What was once created for efficiency is straining to become dynamic incubators of creativity and innovation.

Just understand, it is difficult to move from stagnant answer-focused, linear and predictable systems of efficiency; to inquiry-laden, intrinsically motivated hubs of continuous change.

Even the most agile of startups in the business world have a tendency to evolve out of their agile mindset as they grow and age.  Much like our children as they march into maturity, they tend to lose that sense of wonder, discovery, and quest for learning that was initially provoked by a questioning disposition.

The problem we find ourselves facing is that the speed of change, which is requiring such dramatic shifts for us as individuals and organizations, is also the same change that is overwhelming and wearing us down, often leaving us too weary to face the constancy of its brutal and continuous onslaught.

Because change in our systems is a two-edged sword…

On one-side it is driving and pushing us forward to evolve in ways we could never have imagined.  While on the other-side, it’s brutal intensity and relentless disposition is wearing us down and numbing us towards this ferocity of change.

Which, in some ways, is requiring us to not only engage in new ways, but change the questions that we will continue to grapple with…

Better questions and deeper reflections is what we will need if we are going to improve our systems for our people and the work they do within them.  We have to revive that questioning disposition, that startup mindset in our mature and aging organizations.  We have to reignite that sense of inquiry, wonder and discovery that we’ve had a tendency to shed along the way.

We still tend to ask ourselves why is change so difficult?  Why is change so painful?

The problem with those questions, while still a constant source of concern in our systems and organizations, is that in many ways they don’t hold the same relevance as they did previously.  As the world changes, so does the relevance of the questions we ask ourselves.

In many ways, those unwilling to transform in the face of today’s rapid and abrupt cycles of change, are being swiftly sifted into irrelevance and insignificance.  The questions we must ask ourselves have changed under the intensity and turbulence of change in our modern world.

We now have to begin to ask ourselves; how can we keep pace with this new speed of change?  How do we keep our organizations and systems relevant under this pace of change without exhausting and draining the power of our people?  And even more relevant…

How do we keep pace, when the race has become a sprint and we are still learning how to walk?

In many ways, we have moved past the question of whether or not we choose to change?  Or how do we deal with the difficult and painful process of change?  Too a much more pressing question…

How do we stay relevant (and healthy) in the face of the chaotic and turbulent change forces that are doing more to rev up than slow down?

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