Each year, Crain Communications, which publishes more than 30 trade magazines including Modern Physician, holds a management meeting to discuss topics related to the publishing industry and the company.
Over the years, I've attended most of these affairs and listened to a number of speakers. The last speaker at this year's meeting was provocative and exciting.
Peter Stark is not only a stimulating lecturer but also a prolific author. He has co-authored "Everyone Negotiates," "The Competent Leader" and "The Pocket Guide to Leadership Skills." His audiocassette series covers topics like developing confidence, managing change, hiring winners and dealing with difficult people.
With all the changes going on in publishing and other industries, I looked forward to hearing his presentation on "Surviving and Thriving on Organizational Change . . . and Learning to Love It." I was not disappointed, and I want to share some of the things he spoke about relative to change.
For instance, he pointed out that personal change precedes organizational change. He developed the concept of highlighting what he calls the "transition curve" of change.
Deny and Ignore, the first part of the curve, are the first defenses that individuals throw up. In this stage, people talk about how good things were in the past or "They don't really mean it" and "It can't happen here."
The second stage is Resist and React. Here the person blames others, complains, gets sick and even doubts his or her own ability.
The third stage he calls Anticipate and Explore. In it, the changing person asks, "What's going to happen to me?" He or she copes with chaos and indecisiveness but also begins to learn new skills and clarify goals.
The final stage is Commit. At this level, the changed man or woman finds vision, focus, teamwork, cooperation and balance.
Stark says the seven deadliest words of change are: "We've never done it that way before."
We've all heard those words. People can be very stubborn about change because most individuals like the status quo. It's simply more comfortable and predictable without the stress and anxiety that come with change.
Stark offers some advice on how to better handle personal change, be it a divorce, a new boss or even the death of a loved one. He lists six tips: Create or crystallize a positive, compelling vision; amplify the power of your leadership; focus on what you can do rather than on what you can't do; create a willingness to learn, accepting that change is an attitude; develop a perspective of abundance; and learn to love ambiguity.
It becomes increasingly clear that without personal change, it can be very difficult to deal with any kind of change in a constructive way. Stark points out that there are no quick fixes, and that change can be very messy.
Someone once said, "Out of change comes progress and out of progress comes change." Healthcare offers a classic example of that truism, and unless we are willing to change, some of us are headed for personal and organizational failure.
Charles S. Lauer