Culture by Design is Now ---- The Leader Factor

Change: Building Resilient Organizations & People

In this episode, we're continuing our Leading with Character and Competence series with a discussion on the second cornerstone of competence, change. Change always requires the performance of additional work and the absorption of additional stress. It's a gateway competency in the 21st century. Sometimes we choose it, and sometimes it chooses us.

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Episode Show Notes

In this episode, we're continuing our Leading with Character and Competence series with a discussion on the second cornerstone of competence, change. Previous episodes in this series have been on the four cornerstones of character, which in case you missed them, are integrity, humility, accountability, and courage. In order to become an effective leader and become what we would truly consider competent, you have to become skilled at adapting to change yourself and leading others through change. Tim and Junior talk about facing change as an individual and as a leader, as well as the two failure patterns that organizations face when running change initiatives.

What is change? (0:03:15) Change always requires the performance of additional work and the absorption of additional stress. It's a gateway competency in the 21st century. Sometimes we choose it, and sometimes it chooses us.

What is resilience? (0:09:38) In order to become an effective leader and become what we would truly consider competent, you have to become skilled at adapting to change yourself and leading others through change. And in order to manage change at the individual level, we have to be resilient.

Tackling organizational change (0:23:51) Tim and Junior discuss the two domains of change, personal and organizational. They explain the cocktail of confidence, adaptability, and optimism.

Applying confidence, optimism, and gratitude (0:28:56) How do these three apply to relationships, renewal, learning, contribution, achievement, and purpose?

Two change failure patterns (0:40:35) You can't muscle or smuggle change. When we smuggle, we try to hide the fact that we're changing from people, to bring it into the organization and conceal it, cover it up, bring it in as a covert action, minimize it. When we muscle change, we use formal authority and positional power to force change. Neither yield promising results.

Episode Transcript


0:00:02.4 Producer: Welcome back, Culture by Design listeners, it's Freddie, one of the producers of the podcast. In today's episode, we are continuing our leading with character and competence series with a discussion on the second cornerstone of competence, change. Previous episodes in this series have been on the four cornerstones of character, which in case you missed them, are integrity, humility, accountability, and courage. If you're just joining this series, you can start here, but I'd love for you to go back and listen to the previous episodes. In order to become an effective leader and become what we would truly consider competent, you must become skilled at adapting to change yourself and leading others through change. Today, Tim and Junior will talk about facing change as an individual and leader, as well as the two failure patterns that organizations face when running change initiatives. As always, links to this episode show notes can be found at Enjoy today's episode on the second cornerstone of competence, change.


0:01:12.2 Junior: Welcome back, everyone, to Culture By Design. I'm Junior. I'm here with Dr. Tim Clark, and today we'll be discussing the second cornerstone of competence, change. Tim, how are you? 

0:01:21.5 Tim: I'm doing well, Junior. How are you doing today? 

0:01:24.7 Junior: I'm doing really well. I just learned that the two mile record was broken, and so I've been thinking a lot about that this morning. Ran in 7:54, so for those of you who run at all, that's a pretty amazing record.

0:01:38.2 Tim: That's like sprinting the whole way, isn't it? Like, just try to do that for half a lap.

0:01:45.1 Junior: Yeah, half a lap, not a 30 second, 200.

0:01:49.1 Tim: How about even 100 yards and it's just sprinting the whole time. It's hard to believe.

0:01:52.0 Junior: It's pretty amazing. Author and journalist, Sylvia Nassar, wrote from the beginning of civilization to the 19th century, 90% of humanity was stuck in place, even if their country did comparatively well. Average people lived like livestock. They didn't go anywhere, read anything or wear much. They ate bad food and didn't live a very long time. Tim, how about that quote? 

0:02:19.4 Tim: Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that we have much to be grateful for. That's the way that the human family lived for centuries. Pretty amazing. And so then we can talk a little bit about the paradox of change. That's what we're gonna talk about today, is change. It's wonderful and it's good, and yet it's hard and it's scary. And that's the paradox. And we can't get out of that situation as long as we're living this life. This is what we have, change, it always demands something. So you can't go through change passively. Well, actually, you can. I guess you can, right? That's a choice. But if you want to go where you need to go and you want to be adaptable, then it always requires a couple of things. And this is something that I think we need to reflect on more and more.

0:03:15.4 Tim: Change always requires the performance of additional work and the absorption of additional stress. Always. There's no way around that. The performance of additional work and the absorption of additional stress. And often we don't like that. And so we tend to resist change, right? I think the other thing to point out, Junior, that's related to change is that if you think about change, sometimes we choose change and sometimes change chooses us. And no matter how anticipatory we try to be, we are often thrust into a situation where we have to change even after all that we're... We can do, and we're trying to do to be prepared. So what does that mean? It means that we have to be ready, and that's what we're gonna talk about today. We have to be able to disrupt ourselves or be disrupted. So we have a choice.

0:04:12.0 Tim: We can play offense or we can play defense. We can act preemptively or we can act defensively. And acting preemptively means what? It means that we're changing before we have to, before it's obvious, before we're forced to change. Now, there's a lot in that we're gonna break this down a little bit, but you can't say, well, I don't wanna play. I don't want to play this change game. I'm going to be on the sidelines for that. I'm going to do other things. We don't get that choice. The choice we get is choosing how we approach change and how we react to it and how we prepare for it. That's what we get to do.

0:04:57.4 Junior: You mentioned the paradox of change, that it's wonderful, that it's good, and yet it's hard and scary. And that's the paradox of most desirable things. And change is no exception. Anything that's worth having that's wonderful and good is also going to be hard and scary almost inevitably. So today, we live in a near constant state of disturbance, disturbance characterizes our era we're anything but stuck in place, which as you describe it, makes leadership a more dangerous calling. I love that phrase. The principles have change... Have not changed, but the conditions certainly have. So what has changed? Well, we've been talking about this a lot recently. Education's changed. Government's changed. Healthcare has changed. The nonprofit sector we were talking about recently, that's changed. Market upheaval, technological disruption, demographic churning, political unrest, the list goes on and on and on. There are no storm proof organizations, as you put it, and no sources of competitive advantage that last forever.

0:06:02.2 Junior: So today's episode, in order to become an effective leader and become what we would truly consider competent, you must become skilled at adapting to change yourself and leading others through change. So we really see change as a critical piece of the competence of any leader. It's something that if you have, you're more likely to be successful. And if you don't have it, it's almost impossible to be.

0:06:27.8 Tim: It's really true, Junior. So we, as you say, it's a gateway competency in the 21st century. But let's break this down a little bit. I think this is really quite interesting. If I come to you and I say, "Hey, we need to modify something, we need to adjust something, we need to tweak something." What are you going to say? You're gonna say, no problem. Okay, it's not a big deal. Let's do it. Normally, you won't think twice about it if the change is a small incremental change. Why? Because that small incremental change is within the scope of normal expectation. Does that make sense to everyone? You just make a small change, an adjustment, a modification. It's okay. People are not alarmed. No problem. Yeah. Well, let's go do that. Okay, but let's put change now into three buckets, three different buckets. So we have the minor change bucket, we have the mid-range change bucket, and we have the major change bucket, with that kind of framework in mind, those three buckets.

0:07:41.8 Tim: Here's what we learn very quickly, anything beyond a minor change. So we've got the minor change bucket. Those are the things that are within the scope of normal expectation, we don't have a problem with that, but anything that's not in that bucket is no longer intuitive or natural. And that's what change leadership is really all about. Anything beyond that bucket, you need help for, you need skills for, you need tools for, you need a process for, and this is the applied discipline of leading change in yourself and in others. So let me just say that again. Anything that's not in that minor change bucket is not going to be intuitive or natural or comfortable for most people. Isn't that true, Junior? 

0:08:40.1 Junior: Absolutely. So that's our goal today is to have a productive discussion about this very topic that leaves us with some practical next steps that we can implement to become better at changing ourselves inside those buckets of mid-range and major, and helping others through those changes as well. So it's obvious that there's unprecedented change. That's no mystery. It is not rocket science, but acknowledgement of the turbulence of the dynamism is not enough. And I think that that happens a lot where we acknowledge, okay, it's an unprecedented time there's a lot going on. But if the conversation ends there at acknowledgement and we've missed the bow, you have to pair acknowledgement with what we'll call adjustment. And I think that that is the next step. That's where most of the work lies. And that adjustment for yourself and for other people is what really requires the skills.

0:09:38.1 Junior: And so we're gonna go down a vein and talk about something that I'm pretty passionate about. How could we describe adjustment to turbulence? We could put it as resilience. So put simply, in order to manage change at the individual level, we must become resilient. To me, that's the first step. And I also think that it's probably worth talking about sequence for a second here. I don't think, and Tim, tell me what you think that you can successfully lead others through change if you can't lead yourself through change. We talk about the three steps of lead self, lead team, lead the business. I think that that's true in almost any skill area. And I think that it's especially true in change. You can't go expect change of your team if you don't have the inputs ready to go to change yourself.

0:10:33.2 Junior: And you also, if you're not practiced in change, it's gonna be difficult for you to lead people through it because you don't even know what to expect. But if you've done it a lot before at the individual level, I think you're better equipped. What do you think? 

0:10:47.7 Tim: No, I agree. Junior. It's the distinction that you just made between acknowledgement and adjustment. How many people say, "Oh, we live in a turbulent, unforgiving, VUCA world. That's nice."

0:11:00.2 Junior: Yeah. Okay.

0:11:00.9 Tim: And we keep saying that. Okay, but at some point, we have to be able to be successful in that environment under those conditions, and it becomes an applied discipline. So you're absolutely right. The acknowledgement, it's an important first step, there's no doubt about it. But then we have to go into the process of building the skills, having the tools, having a process, helping others. There's a lot to it.

0:11:33.7 Junior: There's a reason that I feel like resilience is the most appropriate synonym or the most appropriate lens to look at the skill of change. Because people may think, well, resilience is all about setbacks. Resilience is all about problems. And I would say exactly, change, if it's easy and every piece of the change is just a positive, then there's no need to address it. It's easy to just fall in line and make the change. But what we're talking about is when change is difficult, when there's resistance, when there's friction, where there might be some sacrifice, where there may be some delayed gratification.

0:12:12.0 Junior: And so looking through the lens of resilience, I think is the most appropriate. So what's the definition of resilience? As you put it, Tim, "Endure and overcome adversity based on tenacious inner motivation." As the internet puts it, the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties. I think those are two really interesting definitions. So what characterizes the difference between resilient people and those who aren't resilient? So those with low resilience, how do they behave? When change comes, let's say the mid-level to large level change that dislocates, they see it as permanent and out of their control. They engage in catastrophic thinking. They become less agile and less able to deal with changing conditions. They withdraw into themselves and sometimes become very resistant to the change. Sometimes they're even paralyzed at the prospect of change.

0:13:17.0 Tim: I like that.

0:13:18.2 Junior: What else would you add? 

0:13:20.1 Tim: I think that's a fascinating insight that they might be paralyzed even at the prospect of it. And so from there, it just gets worse. They are unable then to contribute. They're not thinking into the future. They're not thinking about solutions. They're not thinking about response patterns. They're not thinking about how we take advantage of this situation. It reminds me of a phrase, Junior, that Peter Drucker would use. He said that we needed to cultivate and develop a planned abandonment mentality. What does that mean? It means that we assume the turbulence, we assume the dynamism. We assume that we're going to have to adapt to changing conditions, and we're preparing for that. We're preparing for the arrival of those conditions. So we're going to plan to abandon the way we do things now. Isn't that fascinating? I love that. A planned abandonment mentality.

0:14:29.7 Tim: That's resilience, that's plain offense. That's trying to get ahead of the changes in a... And be preemptive. That's a completely different posture than these patterns that you just talked about. Catastrophic thinking, withdrawing, looking at these changes as permanent and out of your control. That's a very, very different thing. So I guess we begin with not only the acknowledgement of change, Junior, which is helpful, but the way you frame it and the way you see yourself in that narrative, right? It's completely different. One frame is very different than the other.

0:15:13.6 Junior: I love the word posture, and I think that that's an appropriate word to think about as it relates to change. What is your posture? Are you on your toes or are you on your heels? And if you're on your heels, what could you expect? You can expect to be knocked over. If you're on your toes, you're forward leaning. There's an expectation of change, and that changes a lot. So what's an example of this? Let's run it through this lens. With low resilience, we're reorganizing your business unit. What might someone think with low resilience? Well, this isn't favorable to me. And notice to me, we mentioned that that type of person withdraws into themselves. And I think that that's a really key characteristic is that they withdraw inside, they're concerned only about themselves. Okay. This isn't favorable to me. I'm not even considering any implications for other people, but to me, this isn't a good thing.

0:16:13.4 Junior: This means more work or more difficulty. The permanence. It will always be bad. The catastrophizing, I'll probably lose my job at the end of this, and then some rationalization maybe. I'm going to do the very least possible because I'm gone anyway. And it's interesting to see how some of these things turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. I've seen this time and time again. Where you go through that type of thinking and that becomes, in some cases the inevitable end because you're behaving yourself into that outcome based on the way that you're framing the problem. So let's contrast that group with those with high resilience. What characterizes them? Well, they believe that conditions can change, that they will change, and that they have the power to influence those conditions. I think that that in terms of posture and forward-leaning and expectation is the biggest difference. They feel like they have the power to influence those conditions, that they are agents doing the acting, and they are not objects being acted upon by the conditions in the environment around them. Who's in control here? Certainly you can't control everything, but that lens, looking through that and saying, "Ah, I can influence almost anything," I think is very important.

0:17:33.2 Tim: It is. I think much of this comes back to what you're doing during a period of relative equilibrium, during a period of relative stability. What are you doing then? Because if you're settling in and you're becoming fossilized, you're becoming calcified, you're becoming hardened and deeply grooved in your thinking and your behavior, then when you're called upon to change, the next time, you're gonna have a hard time. So what are you doing be between the episodes of change? I think that's a great predictor of the way that you're going to handle change. If you're working on, if you're learning, if you're building knowledge, skills, experience, tools, competency, and you're doing that deliberately, that's a pretty good indicator of how you're going to react when change is thrust upon you or when you choose it the next time. Right? What are you doing in between those episodes of change when there's relative equilibrium that's going to tell the story? 

0:18:41.0 Junior: Yeah, perhaps another way to frame it would be peace time versus war time.

0:18:44.5 Tim: Exactly.

0:18:45.5 Junior: What are you doing in peace time to prepare for the inevitable war time? You don't know when it's going to come. But you know that it is going to come. And you'd better be prepared. And it makes me think about one of your first comments, which is that sometimes you choose change and sometimes change chooses you. When the change chooses you, if you haven't beforehand chosen change, you will not be equipped, so how do you prepare in peace time for war time? You have to choose change, you have to choose preparation, you have to choose to voluntarily step into discomfort to grow those skills. To stretch and build those muscles so that when they're actually needed in a time of performance, in a performance environment, they're there and ready to be leaned on, because if you have not prepared and you're not practiced as it relates to change, when change chooses you, you're not gonna be ready to go.

0:19:43.0 Junior: And so there's this voluntary element, I think that's so important when we are in a state of equilibrium to go out and do things that are difficult, so that you're ready to go, when the time for performance comes, the time for preparation has passed, and I think that that's just case in point here with change.

0:19:58.9 Tim: And if you're in the midst of a large scale organizational change, say it's a non-linear step change that you're going through, then you know this is going to be a long journey, right? 

0:20:13.0 Junior: Yeah.

0:20:14.2 Tim: It's going to take a while. And so in preparation for that kind of the long journey, you've gotta focus on your inputs knowing that the desired results may not come when you want them to come. And so beyond your intellectual capacity to understand change in the nature of change at an organizational level, there's a requirement for a certain stamina and endurance that you're going to need for the long journey, that's what's going to be required of you. So if you can bring that, that's going to make the difference in the long run.

0:20:55.9 Junior: So is resilience a learned skill or something set in stone that we either have or we don't. Based on the way that we've been talking, you can probably guess what we're going to say, no, it is a chosen response pattern, it's really hard at first, but it's something that gets easier as you practice, just like many things. So is the response to the example above where we talked about the business unit reorg, is that something that's just baked in? No. So how would someone with higher resilience look at that example, we're reorganizing your business unit, they might say something like, "Well, okay, I see some challenges upfront that are pretty obvious, but maybe this will work out favorably for me. It looks like I'm gonna have to work a little bit more at the beginning, but I think that this could create some more opportunity or I'm not exactly how things is... Sure how things will shake out, but I'm optimistic that things will turn out well."

0:21:52.5 Junior: So there's a fundamentally different frame to the exact same stimulus, you have this change, it's in front of you, and you get to decide how you start looking at it. So if resilience is a learned skill, what breeds resilience? So here's a way to put it that has been helpful to me as I've thought about some skills that I'm trying to develop. If you are responsible for developing resilience in someone else, what would you do? What would you prescribe? 

0:22:21.1 Junior: If you were responsible for developing resilience as someone else, what would you do? Would you prescribe ease? No, you would probably prescribe difficulty. To me that's a helpful frame. If I'm trying to build a skill for myself, how might I go about building that skill for someone else? How would I tune the environment to help someone build resilience? What do you think about that, Tim? 

0:22:46.6 Tim: Makes me think of preparing for any kind of achievement or performance, it could be in athletics, it can be in music, it could be in the performing arts, what are you doing preparation? You're going to absorb the requirement, the work requirement, it's the same thing, so there is... In no scenario, is the preparation easy? That's never the prescription as you say.

0:23:14.3 Junior: And if it were easy, then the outcome is not very gratifying, right? 

0:23:17.9 Tim: No. Yeah.

0:23:19.4 Junior: So you'd probably prescribe difficulty in that scenario, and every difficulty, depending on how you look at it, we would say that every difficulty is opportunity, and there are a lot of quotes that are misattributed, this may be one of them, I'm not sure. But it's often attributed to Thomas Edison, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." I love that quote. It's missed by most people because it's dressed in overalls and looks like work, and I think that this is no different. Resilience is no different. Change is no different.

0:23:51.3 Junior: So let's talk organizationally now, for just a moment, and then we'll talk about some solutions, some practices, what happens to teams and organizations that are led by people who have poorly developed resilience? What do you think? Are they going to have the staying power to lead a large scale, long-term change? Probably not. They're probably not gonna do very well. The organizations and the teams that are led by those types of people don't stick around very long, so if our adaptive capacity and our resilient is so important, then how do we develop it? We're gonna go about this next piece of the conversation and talk about two domains, first being personal and the second being organizational. So personal, we're gonna say change yourself.

0:24:37.6 Junior: How do you change yourself? You build resilience. What's a frame to look through to help us get our arms around this concept, we call it COG, confidence, optimism and gratitude. So think of that as the center of this model that we're going to describe. Tim, why are those three things in the middle of this model, why are those three things so important as they relate to building resilience or changing ourselves? 

0:25:04.8 Tim: I don't know if I can adequately explain the mechanism, but these attributes, for some reason, they become mutually reinforcing and they create this engine of positive energy of self-efficacy, of excitement, of contagious emotion that spreads, that takes over, and I can't describe all of the inner workings, but we do know that it does work.

0:25:41.4 Tim: So just think about this mix, this cocktail of confidence, optimism and gratitude, and let's assume that these are very real, these are her real attributes and they're being expressed. Let me think about what that does. Think about what it does in your own life.

0:26:02.9 Junior: I've been thinking about these three relative to my own life and figuring out which ones I need to tune up. Obviously, I can work on all of them. I think for me, in terms of skill, confidence is probably number one, gratitude is probably number two, and optimism is probably number three, and I've been thinking about how optimism plays a role inside those other two. You mentioned that they're mutually reinforcing, I think I believe that. And I've been thinking about the experiences that I've had with other people who I think have optimism as number one, and that's kinda helped to put it in perspective for me, because if you ask me just in isolation in a vacuum, why is optimism important, gotta have a difficult time. But when I look at those around me who are clearly optimistic, it helps everything, it doesn't make anything worse.

0:26:55.5 Junior: Now, I'm not talking about blind optimism, but I have several people close to me in my life that are optimistic people, at least I would describe them that way, may be relative to me. And it's interesting to see the way that they approach situations, they may understand perfectly the gravity of a given situation, all its implications and just how negative it possibly could be, but still approach it with this air of optimism like, "Oh, you know, I think it's gonna be okay, it's gonna be alright. This is gonna be okay." And that is contagious. And the opposite is also true. Pessimism is contagious, and that is so damaging, and I think that this is something that I've come to appreciate more over the last couple of years, is that optimism, there's some secret sauce in there. And I don't know exactly what it is, but I just look at some of the situations that I've been through that have been affected by optimistic people, and it just makes everything so much better. So I just wanted to call that out as something interesting that I've observed.

0:27:54.6 Tim: Sometimes we find teams that are in the mode of change and they've been charged to change or adapt in some pretty significant ways and they're not doing well, and it's almost always traceable to a lack of these things in the leader. And it's manifest by the members of the team, you can see patterns of... Well, they get very cynical and they get very jaded, and they get very sarcastic and frustrated and discouraged, and you can see that that's just as contagious and it's very dangerous by the way. But it's traceable to the leader, so the leader has this very special role to secure the optimism and the hope of the team through encouragement and by demonstrating these three attributes that we're talking about, Junior.

0:28:56.5 Junior: Well, I'm glad that you went into that a little bit, and that's probably what I'm learning is that, just how much of an effect optimism or pessimism has on those around you, it doesn't stay just in you, it affects everybody around you, and maybe I'm naive for possibly considering anything other than that, but I've definitely seen it. So confidence, optimism and gratitude, if we look at that as the core mechanism to build resilience and to help change in yourself and others, then we can apply those three things to areas of our life and responsibility, and we're gonna go through a few of those and talk about their application.

0:29:43.6 Junior: So the first is relationships, how do you apply confidence, optimism and gratitude to relationships and why are relationships important? Relationships help us be resilient, if you don't have those relationships necessary for support, then change becomes more difficult, support networks aid change. And I think for each of us, there have probably been times where we felt the support from our networks, and that could be friends, family, partners, work, it could be a whole host of things. But when those things have been around, you can probably tell the change has been easier or it's been easier to be resilient, and when those things have not been there, it's been more difficult.

0:30:33.1 Tim: That's really true. And so what that means, Junior, is that you bring those attributes to the relationship, you show up, you engage, you express those attributes of confidence, optimism and gratitude in the context of your relationship. And you take that seriously as your personal responsibility, you're going to bring those things to your interactions. That's what you're going to do.

0:31:04.9 Junior: Yep, so the next one is renewal, it's important that we seek renewal, if you don't renew, then you're not going to have the gas that's necessary to get all the way through the change, to have the resilience necessary for as long as necessary to get through to the other side, so looking through the lens of confidence, optimism and gratitude at renewal's pretty interesting, so let's talk about some potential application.

0:31:31.5 Junior: Confidence, how does confidence show up in renewal? It shows up as, I'm confident that it's possible to get renewal, I think that that's really important to optimism that I'm going to renew and things will be better in the future because I'm getting renewal. Gratitude is an interesting one relative to renewal as well, because there may not be a lot of opportunity for renewal depending on the period that you're in, but showing gratitude for the small moments of renewal. I know for me, the gratitude for renewal, the lens changes depending on what life's looking like at the moment, it could be that you show gratitude just to be able to go walk outside for a couple of minutes when things are really, really crazy. [laughter]

0:32:24.9 Junior: Really, and just take a couple of breaths. Instead of, I have no time, everything is crazy, it will never get better, I have no control. You think about the catastrophizing and the difference as we mentioned earlier about the war between resilient people and those who lack resilience, and think about how it shows up in these categories is fascinating. Relationships renewal.

0:32:52.2 Junior: The next one is learning. It's important that we learn at or above the speed of change, we talked about that last episode, learning gives you the tools to continue and progress through the change, and we've been talking about this internally, as we grow as an organization, that the business will require a different version of you in six months than it did today than it did a year ago. And so if you don't learn, you won't be able to show the resilience and change with the organization to give it what it needs to get to that next level. So again, how do you show up to learning with confidence, with optimism, and with gratitude? What do you think about that one? 

0:33:41.2 Tim: I love what you said that the business is going to require a different version of you. And that may be month-to-month, Junior, what if you're in a long, hard slog of transformation that's going to be true as you move through that journey? And that requires a lot of self-reflection to think about, "We're here now, we need to be point B in three months, but where do I need to be in three months at point B, personally? What's the new version of me that needs to be ready at that point." So I really like tracking the personal change that is required in the context of the organizational change as you move through the journey, people don't often think that way.

0:34:32.3 Junior: No.

0:34:33.2 Tim: But that's enormously helpful.

0:34:34.6 Junior: It is, and I think for me, at least, part of the way that I frame this for myself is changes, it happened so incrementally, that sometimes it's appropriate to move away from that incremental lens and look at change as a step function. And so here's an application of that, I might say, "Okay, right now, I'm Junior version 1.7. And the future that I can see in six months is gonna require a Junior 2.0. So what does Junior 2.0 have that version 1.7 doesn't have? Well, maybe it's a little bit more optimism, maybe it's a little bit more gratitude." And then you reverse engineer those back down to the incremental level to things that you can do today and tomorrow, but I love thinking about that as software versions, right? At the bottom of software and the footer, you'll often see version 6.7.2, and I see the change that's happening to us at a personal level, not like the old software where it would be on a CD-ROM and you'd have to wait an entire year or two to get the next version.

0:35:45.9 Tim: Oh, it was like a new release every 18 months.

0:35:49.0 Junior: Exactly. And you're just stuck with that for a really long time, and maybe you'll run on the same software for 24 months. Now, it's continuous release, and we use this in our software, right? We see something that we need to change, we push a change immediately. Okay, let's get that right out of the door, and tomorrow we'll probably release again, and the next day we'll probably release again and, yeah, there are more intentional sprints and we're being methodical about our release strategy, but, hey, there's a little thing you need to tweak, take care of it right now, push out the door. And maybe that's something that we can apply to ourselves. How quickly are we changing versions, how quickly are we improving? 

0:36:31.4 Tim: It's a phenomenal metaphor because, Junior, think about the releases that we push, every week we're pushing releases and so it's the velocity, it's the speed of change, but we don't have to apply that to ourselves, so I love that.

0:36:50.3 Junior: So there are three other applications for confidence, optimism and gratitude, the next is contribution, you need to contribute beyond yourself. Contribution gives you a sense of meaning and satisfies your human need to make a difference, so as you contribute through the lens of confidence, optimism and gratitude, you're going to build resilience. Achievement, you need to achieve meaningful goals, and achievement is an interesting idea, it gives you a goal post in the distance and then you can put smaller goal posts along the way. Achievement can be a fickle thing, and I think we can get it wrong probably deserves another episode, but we need to be deliberate about how far out those goal posts are, and find meaning in the journey, not just in the achievement, which leads us to the final, which is purpose. Find purpose in your work, it gives you a why to the change.

0:37:46.8 Junior: And for me, this is perhaps the most enduring motivation for me is purpose, if you don't have purpose leading into a long slog, as you described it, Tim, of a change, man, good luck. I don't think that you're gonna have the gas, if you don't really feel like it's needful, that it's purposeful, that it's meaningful. And so finding that purpose, finding that meaning, I think will be able to pull you to the other side of that change.

0:38:17.8 Tim: I agree, Junior. The deep why taps motivation reminds me, I was in Canada not long ago, doing an executive training session with a team, and at one point in the session this gentleman, he got so fired up, he even raised his hands, he was so excited and he said, I'll never forget it, he said, "Humans are built for purpose." He just lit up, he was so excited. And he wanted to share that with everyone. And it's true, we are built for purpose, and we need to tap that purpose, that purpose becomes almost an inexhaustible source of motivation, and think about what's required Junior for the long journeys. You gotta go back to that well.

0:39:07.3 Junior: I love that.

0:39:11.5 Tim: Over and over and over again. Far beyond the point at which you feel tired and depleted and exhausted and spent, you've gotta go back and you've got to tap that inexhaustible well of purpose, and sure enough, you'll find that there's more fuel, there's more motivation to keep on going for something that may be long-term.

0:39:37.4 Junior: I love that. We talked I think, one or two episodes ago about urgency as a catalyst, but not a sustainer, and you contrast that with purpose, and if you describe purpose as a deep well, then urgency is probably a puddle, and that goes away really quick, but purpose is that deep well, absolutely love that. So that's the personal application, building resilience through the frame of confidence, optimism and gratitude, applying those three principles to relationships, renewal, learning, contribution, achievement and purpose. So we're gonna spend a few minutes now talking about the organizational application, how do we help others change, and I felt that one of the most appropriate ways to address this one was not how to help others change, but how not to.

0:40:35.4 Junior: I think that there are two failure patterns that you've described that are pertinent, that are probably worth our time, the two failure patterns are smuggling and muscling, so let's talk about smuggling for a moment, Tim, you wanna tee that one up and describe that? 

0:40:52.2 Tim: Yeah, smuggling is an interesting pattern. This is where we try to hide the fact that we're changing from people, or at least the full view of what we're doing, so we try to bring it into the organization and conceal it, cover it up, bring it in as a covert action, minimize it. It's not a big deal. So we're smuggling it in, why are we trying to do that? Well, we're trying to avoid the resistance and the alarm that come with change, and so we try to smuggle it, but in the end, what happens? Well, we have to come to terms with the change and what is required by the change, so ultimately, it makes it worse because you're not playing straight with people, and then they get even more frustrated, but you can see the temptation to smuggle to allay people's fears, to try to avoid the explosion of resistance that you might anticipate, so that's what smuggling is all about.

0:42:05.6 Junior: This one is fascinating to me because the whole strategy is avoidance, it is the entire strategy, and there are some assumptions about that, the assumption is that the change that we're smuggling will cause alarm and resistance, and to me, there's this really paternalistic attitude that comes along with smuggling.

0:42:27.8 Tim: Yeah, that's true.

0:42:29.4 Junior: Like, I know what's best for you and what you don't know won't hurt you, and so I'm just gonna do this in a corner, and you don't need to find out, we're gonna pull the curtains down and you just carry on and I'm gonna do this thing over here in hopes that you never find out, So what's the inevitable end? Well, we can probably all call it out because we've likely had experience with someone doing this to us, where you see something going on and you say, "Wait a second, what's going on here? Is this some change that's being smuggled?" And so at the end, you just find frustration and resistance, the very two things you were trying to avoid in the first, that's what I think is so funny about this attempt is we're trying to avoid pain by being duplicitous, and disingenuous, and yet we inevitably... Seriously, I think that I can confidently say inevitably, you'll be found out, the organization is not going to be ignorant of whatever you're trying to do forever, and so you just run into the frustration and resistance at the end of the day, no matter what.

0:43:39.4 Tim: The very things that you were trying to avoid.

0:43:42.2 Junior: Yeah, you just took longer and incurred more pain, right? 

0:43:47.1 Tim: You paid a bigger price and you took more time.

0:43:49.6 Junior: So that's smuggling. Don't do that. The next one is muscling. Now, this one is to the same end, different means using formal authority and positional power to force change. This one is also paternalistic, the paternalistic element of both of these. I know what's best for the organization. There's no time to discuss this, you'll only resist me if I open it up for debate anyway, and you'll be convinced after the fact, 'cause you'll see that I'm right, and it's through this lens that organizations respond best to pressure anyway. So let's just go ahead and put notes to the grind stone and you just have to do this, this is not a discussion. This is not a debate. These are your marching orders. Go do it.

0:44:36.1 Tim: The danger here, Junior, is that if you think about change, we talked about motivation, we talked about fuel, we talked about what's driving change. If you muscle people, then what is your fuel source, it is compliance, people are doing it because you have forced them into service, and so they're doing it out of compliance, it doesn't mean they want to. It doesn't mean they like it, but they're doing it because they have to. Well, that has a pretty short shelf life compared to commitment, so think about the tracks you can be on, you can be on a compliance track, or you can be on a commitment track for change. And as we said before, we need a deep why we need to tap motivation. Muscling is going to put you onto a compliance track, and you may experience incredible results in a short-term. I've seen that again and again and again. Even when people are on a compliance track, I've seen them demonstrate remarkable results in the short-term. How about the long-term though, how about the long-term when you're no longer there to press them into service to muscle them. When they have more agency, more latitude, more say so, you're gonna have a hard time sustaining that level of performance if you're on a compliance track.

0:46:05.0 Junior: So muscling and smuggling, those are the two most common failure patterns that we see relative to organizational change. Now, there's a framework that we don't have an opportunity to spend too much time on, perhaps we'll do it in a later episode, but it's the epic framework and this comes from another book that Tim published. Tim was this the first book you published? 

0:46:28.7 Tim: It sure was, years ago.

0:46:31.3 Junior: The first one ever. So leader factor has change management roots. We have a lot to say on this topic. And as we were discussing before we started recording, Tim said, we could do a lot of episodes on this topic, and we surely, surely could. The Epic Methodology is something that we will just share very briefly and encourage you to go take a look at the book and perhaps in the future, we could do some episodes, but the epic methodology, Tim, I'll let you describe it, what is it? What's it for. What should we know about it? In just a couple of minutes.

0:47:00.9 Tim: It's a four-stage framework that describes the empirical pattern of change, these are stages that you have to go through regardless of whether you do them well or not, and whether they're short or long, these are actual stages that you always go through for a successful change, so the first stage is evaluation, you have to evaluate the current state and where you are. The second stage is preparation, that means that you're going to prepare to achieve a future state, and that, by the way, is also a part of stage one evaluation is evaluating the current state and then evaluating and defining what that future state looks like. Preparation means you're preparing for the journey. Stage three is implementation, this is where you begin to execute the change. And then stage four is consolidation, this is where you bring the change together, you consolidate it, you make it strong, you make it stick, and then you do not regress to the mean. So these are the four stages that you always go through for a successful change evaluation, preparation, implementation, and then finally, consolidation.

0:48:22.4 Junior: For those of you who are into organizational change, wanna learn a little bit more about that, we'll link the book in the show notes, but that's been a very helpful methodology for me to learn more about. Okay, so to summarize, our effectiveness as leaders will depend largely on our ability to adapt to change personally and lead others through change, each of us needs to cultivate resilience and be intentional about the way we introduce change, we shouldn't muscle it, and we shouldn't smuggle it, and I also, just as a final thought here, think that that is an appropriate application to personal change as well.

0:49:03.4 Junior: You shouldn't smuggle change for yourself in being unrealistic about what it's going to take about trying to deceive yourself, that doesn't work, and you shouldn't muscle it either, you can put yourself on a compliance track internally, and that is not sustainable. So if you look at the applications of that idea, oof they're far reaching, and the commitment track is something that we should strive for both personally and organizationally.

0:49:42.3 Junior: And as we talked about in the beginning, it's important that we figure out how to do these things on a personal level first, before we go and try to help other people do them. We need to Flex these muscles, we need to build these skills, and hopefully there are a couple of things that you can take away from today's episode as application to take into your day today, tomorrow, and the next day and so on, that will help. Tim, any final thoughts? 

0:50:02.7 Tim: Yeah, just to come back to the premise that leading change is a gateway competency in the 21st century. And then number two, we choose change or change chooses us, and we're trying to get ahead of it, so that we can be preemptive, but this takes a lot of work because it is an applied discipline.

0:50:25.5 Junior: Alright, well, thank you everyone for your time and attention. We appreciate your listenership very much, we're thankful for the work you do in the world, and we're here to support you. If you found value in today's episode, please share it with someone who might find it useful. Take care everyone. We will see you next episode, bye-bye.

0:50:46.2 Producer: Hey Culture by Design listeners, this is the end of today's episode. You can find all the important links from today's episode at And if you found today's episode helpful and useful in any way, please share it with a friend and leave a review. If you'd like to learn more about LeaderFactor and what we do, then please visit us at

0:51:12.4 Producer: Lastly, if you'd like to give any feedback to the Culture by Design Podcast or even request a topic from Tim and Junior, then reach out to us at or find and tag us on LinkedIn. Thanks again for listening and making culture something you do by design not by default.


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Episode Transcript

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