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  • Gilbert Kruidenier

15 things I wish I could have told myself about Change

Image of post-it note with text "note to self"

Wouldn’t it be great if you could actually take your own advice? I suffer from impostor syndrome as much or more as the next change manager and all that self-reflection and self-improvement that comes with the job, often makes me feel like I have little new value to add. Not great.

But then there’s also the weeks where you get asked to share your knowledge with a room full of PhDs and they all seem to agree that you are a ‘profound thinker’ (Bwaahaahaa, honestly, who even uses that word?!), you do a #SHOC with Jennifer Frahm and people really seem to like it, get to sit on an expert panel for Prosci certification, are asked to mentor a starting IT manager and be a side-kick to a super smart University lecturer in a Leadership course. That’s pretty cool.

Still, I keep thinking that at some point (soon) they’ll figure out that I don’t know as much as they think. It hasn’t happened in 14 years, but that only means it’s drawing closer, right?!

What I wouldn’t give to be able to go back about 10 years to a younger me and share my learnings but stupid Science still hasn’t invented a time machine, so I’ll have to settle for sharing my learnings with the present-day change community and hope that it adds some value for new entrants to the profession and entertains the more established amongst us. One last thing, my past self was even more impatient than I am now and had the attention span of a gold-fish, so it’ll be short and sweet.

Dear me, here’s some good advice that you’ll probably ignore because you’re busy doing busy things, but if you find 3 minutes to read a list that summarises your working life 10 years from now, do yourself a favour and have a drink, sit down and don’t forget to breathe.

1. You should always challenge the status quo, but don’t be an ass, it gets you nowhere.

2. Speak truth to power respectfully and you’ll have fans in places that matter.

3. Just because you’re new, doesn’t mean you don’t get it, you probably do.

4. Make it simple and keep it that way, that’s far more impressive than big words and models.

5. If your team or organisation doesn’t have a comms person, run.

6. Befriend ‘resisters’, they are a symptom and great indicator of where the real problem is.

7. ‘Leave no-one behind’ might work for the military but they have tanks and helicopters, you have a laptop and sticky notes, pick your battles.

8. Visible change counts, the rest is just words and models.

9. Stop trying to solve other people’s problems, focus on your own and see that they didn’t really need your help, just some encouragement.

10. Have a realistic plan, not just a strategy, that’s just words, provide a way forward.

11. If you’re trying to change minds, words matter, choose them carefully.

12. Leave the culture alone, it rarely needs fixing and is the way it is for a reason.

13. When you’re wrong, admit it immediately, apologise, move on, it’s not a big deal.

14. Find a mentor that inspires you to do your best change work, then be that mentor for someone else and pay it forward.

15. Address the good AND the bad when preparing for change, people will think that you’re a profound thinker (I know, that’s crazy).

Okay, that’s enough talk and pearls of wisdom, don’t you have a world to change or something?! Go get ‘em.

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