At the beginning of the year, I often think about myths we need to let go of. It might just be because it’s the dead of winter here in snowy Minnesota, but the one that’s swirling about in my brain is the myth that organizations are frozen in time. When organizations are fixed, static, and unmoving we must “unfreeze” them in order to change create change.
This myth comes from thinking about an organization as an object or a machine. Machines don’t change on their own, they don’t evolve, and they are frozen in a specific shape and function. A living organization is filled with human beings who are always moving, evolving, and changing. And the organization has to transform as well.
We have to let go of thinking of our organizations as frozen or static and shift to viewing our organizations as constantly moving. When we release this myth, we experience many other natural adjustments in the way we lead and think about change.
A New Mindset of Constant Motion
Nature teaches us that all living systems are in ongoing dynamic movement. When we focus on change, a big part of the work we need to do is to reframe our organizations as already in movement. When this happens, we can begin to reinforce and enhance the patterns of movement that help the organization evolve.
We also need to let go of the idea that people don’t like to change. Just like within living systems, all living entities constantly learn and evolve with feedback and information. In the simplest example, when we stop breathing we no longer exist. Nature makes an important point here, however, and that is when people initiate change themselves, they like it. If the change improves their quality of life going forward, they like it even more.
Lastly, we must remember that resistance is still movement. We’ve all had experiences when a rigid habit or tightly-held thought pattern caused problems repeatedly. Resistance requires energy to maintain our current thinking and habits. This expenditure of energy is actually a positive indicator. It means we’re subconsciously working on the dissonance between what we are holding on to and the system feedback telling us it’s time to adapt to a new way.
The myth of a frozen organization is a dangerous thought pattern that causes people to view system transformation as a daunting task. We tell ourselves that change is going to be hard work, and needs a heavy push to start moving. We think it takes a lot of power and resources to jumpstart the transformation we want to see in the world.
Nature reminds us that change doesn’t have to be hard. The system we want to transform is actually far from frozen. It’s always moving and experimenting as part of its evolution. As change agents always mindful of this fact, we can now focus on connecting with and amplifying change that leads us toward the larger transformation we would like to see in the world.
Where do you see things as frozen? How can you shift your mindset to move forward with change more easily and naturally?