UsualSuspectsChange

Change management and the law of identity

Toby Elwin Blog, Organization Behavior

change management, law of identity, Toby Elwin

“OK, straight faces, that is not what I meant … “

Identity shapes how people describe their world. The range of options that someone can identify and define their view presents little issue, until collaboration. Unfortunately, most of what we do involves collaboration and different identity brings, distinctly, different expectation.

The Law of Identity, symbolically represented as A is A, means A is A and is not approximately or roughly A; represented as ~A.  Something is either different or the same, not, approximately, the same.

What is change management?

Well, that depends on who you ask – that is, if you ask, and this blog advocates you do, indeed, ask.

In our world of people, process, and technology, a single item can mean multiple things. Within change management a shared view of who and what, exactly, to change is a critical success factor around how change succeeds or fails.

What is change management?

Without a level-set of a shared term, expect the human resources department, the information technology department, and the project management department to identify change management through their identity.  Change management means different things to different groups and different things between people within the same group.

An entity can only be fully identical with itself. Any difference gives rise to a separate identity. Thus identity is whatever makes an entity definable and recognizable, in terms of possessing a set of qualities or characteristics that distinguish it from other entities.  Identity

How could one term have multiple views? Perspective. People associate words and images to their perspective.

Are any of these perspectives invalid? Mixing expectation presents a hazard of multiple, mixed expectations, so … perhaps.

What if I say, Asia? One might imagine China, another Japan, another Korea, another Taiwan, another, the continent, another still, the incredibly tepid, mid-80s, rock band. If you began a discussion without identifying the Asia you mean then each time Asia is used mixed messages filter best intentions.

Even a view of the same item does not create a single view. Different people identify their meaning to what they see, feel, or hear.  Start a project, any project, not just change management, with a level-set of terminology.  Within project management planning stage a Work Breakdown Structure Dictionary sets direction for the team.

A is A, not B

This is most certainly not, “it is what it is”.  As that leaves room for interpretation.  The more relevant comment:  “it is what you make it”.

If you have ever taken certification training the facilitator or set of instructions often says, “forget how you may have used this term or done this before, do not think about what makes sense to how you may have done it, because for this certification the meaning is … ”

No matter the effort, do not assume a shared view.  At any collaboration, level-set terms and no matter the diversity of industry or profession or organization or eduction or background or agenda individuals may view something, set the conversation straight.

Whether facilitation or team planning, set the meaning.  Start with the terms in use and the way to identify and define the term.  Glass half full or glass half empty presents a small sample of variable views to the same object.

Mixed messages are distinctly not what we need more of within change management or collaborate of any effort.  Set the foundation for discussion with clear use of terms.  Without clear identification, too many assumptions arise.  This is also why buyer or community persona efforts present great value to focus on target’s motivation not designer motivation.

Philosophy can untangle confusion. Of course, some might think this too academic, but confusion is illogical.

Try to start at A and make sure A is A, before moving on to B.