Friday, May 13, 2011

New Wineskins

Not surprisingly, a lot of people don't like change. They keep the furniture in the same place. They keep the same loathsome jobs (from their perspective). They stay in the same relationships. But change happens all the time. We get new technology (thank goodness!) so we're not working only with typewriters and carbon paper. We have phones we can carry so that we can contact our teenage children, or vice versa when they need a ride or help with the car. Even we change as we get older. New experiences every day change us a little bit.

When we try to create change, we need to know that we can't expect the people and the structures to our lives to remain the same. As Heraclitus said thousands of years ago, "You can't step in the same river twice." As the river flows, the river bank changes. The fish are in different spots. Likewise, we want people to shift a little, or a lot. If we change management, we have new dynamics in the relationships. If we change product mixes or service models, we have differing reactions from our customers and clients when the sales and marketing people roll out the new sales campaigns. We improve operations that requires new behaviors and new processes.

Wouldn't it be necessary to change the organizational framework? We might want to consider new policies, or new incentives, new self-directed structures, new content to jobs, and new collaborative networks within the company.

It's too easy for people to keep doing the same thing if we don't change some of those things. If we want to take the organization from its "party-line telephone" days to its "smartphone" days, we can make it easier by eliminating the switchboard.

As Jesus Christ said, also thousands of years ago, you can't put new wine (change) in old wineskins (current organizational structure and operating system) without creating a mess. If you want to keep the new wine, you need new wineskins.

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