Monday, 6 May 2013

Building Change Capacity

Change is a hard thing to effect in ourselves. It not only takes the courage to see ourselves clearly, but then the ability to strategise, break down large tasks into digestible pieces, and then the endurance to take action after action, and monitor our own progress.

Lots of us get to the strategising step. Not so many of us successfully sort out the tasks. But where most of us fail is with endurance.

Richard Boyatzis, a professor at Case Western in the US, developed a theory of Intentional Change. It was published in 2006 in the Journal of Management Development ("An overview of intentional change from a complexity perspective", Volume 25, issue 7, pp. 607-623), detailing a framework that we can all use to create a personal change plan. Richard's framework arose out of longitudinal studies of individual and organisational change.

So, what should we do?

According to Boyatzis (2006; MindTools, n.d.), there are five common-sense steps to follow to make a lasting personal change:
  1. Discover your ideal self. Think about and record your short, medium and long-term goals. Think about your goals in terms of personal development, work, recreation and dreams. Draw out what really gets you engaged: what grabs you. Don't discount things that you think are too far fetched: this is all aspirational work.
  2. Discover your real self. Do lots of tests and quizzes, and ask someone who has completed leadership study for their workbooks so you have access to leadership development tools. Ask people around you - whom you trust - for what they think are your key skills and key opportunities to improve. Compile over time a personal SWOT analysis that pulls all this feedback together.
  3. Create your personal development plan. Compare your ideal self with reality: look for gaps. Think about what actions you need to take you from reality to ideal. Consider resources you might need. Find someone to guide you (ie, a coach or mentor). Have a reality check: are some of these things going to be too hard? Are you better to achieve some smaller goals so you can build your change capacity? Once decided, schedule things in your diary.
  4. Experiment with and practice new habits. Set small goals that you can tick off. Do something every day to help build your change capacity muscles. Additionally, working on developing good habits in less important areas also helps you develop better muscles for the really big goals (Pinola, 2013).
  5. Get support. Share what you are doing. Share your failures and your successes. Share your plan, and they will carry you in the tough times with their encouragement.
Read more about intentional change at:


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