You know when you come across something that has you laughing, and laughing, and laughing some more — partly because it is funny but also because there is a deep understanding that sadly it is so very true. For me, there are two witticisms that always come to mind when I find myself involved with a merger, an acquisition, or any transition where the goal is aggressive growth... and I can't help but laugh every time.
The first witticism was presented to me some time ago after we had burned through a number of days on a project and were about to "hit the go button"; a colleague came into my office and told me that leadership decided to change the scope, and we had to start over.
He then looked at me, smiled, and said,
"The ball was in the air and they moved the goal posts"
The other witticism came to me in the form of a link in an email — there was no subject line and there were no words; just a link. For twenty-three seconds I laughed, and laughed, and laughed because sadly it was so very true. I must have watched it three or four times before I then forwarded the link on to those I thought may find it "apropos". The link in question was Billy Connelly's Business plan, and it was the final line of the presentation that I hold dear —
"And the demands will all be changed then, so fuckin' stay awake..."
This is not a commentary on business, or leadership, or any of the dozens and dozens of reasons change occurs — this is simply a comment that how those rules you operate by will change. And as I like to say, that change will be either "adaptable evolution" or "bloody revolution" but either way, the rules will change and you will have to deal with it (although you could just quit or role over with your belly exposed to the sky). It really is one of those "full stop" sorta things,
"Those rules you operate by will change. Full stop."
I suppose knowing that is not very helpful when change does come knocking (which, as I've suggested, most certainly will), but I will say after all those years of laughter and tears, I may be able to offer some insights for consideration —
- It is important to understand the rules will change, you can not stop it, and it really has been that way ever since rules were invented — change and adapt, change and adapt; it is in our DNA. It is important to accept and embrace this point.
- When the rules are changing get involved, understand what's behind it, and champion the change.
- When someone moves the goal posts you are allowed to get "fussy" about it and throw a "professional tantrum". Get it out of your system and move on.
- Confront any "anti-change" discussion and positively lead it in a constructive direction.
- Laughter really is the best medicine — so laugh out loud. Way better, and less destructive, than getting angry.
- The more things stay the same, the more dramatic the change will be when it comes — it's best to advocate for continual change.
- With change comes opportunity — search it out, and go for it.
- It's best to be respectful during times of change and do not assume you are untouchable.
- There is no such thing as "the golden age", so stop talking about it.
- Pay attention to what's happening, and be part of it.
Off to listen to the link again... it makes me laugh, and laugh, and laugh.