In fact, we often find that there are several different patterns operating in the life of a client or in an organization and find that these patterns reinforce one another. For example, we might discover that one of our clients seems to move regularly through a cycle of emotional crisis and calm in his personal life. This emotional cycle might, in turn, compliment and be amplified by a cycle of economic crisis and clam in his organization, or by a comparable cycle in his family life. His emotional cycle might even be parallel to seasonal cycles operating in the part of the world where he lives. Each of these cycles keeps the other cycles operating and maintains powerful patterns in the life of our client or his organization. As coaches, we need to be aware of this maintenance function and help our client fully appreciate its power.
The Change Curve: Another dynamic operates in the lives of many clients and in the life of many organizations. This dynamic is based on the way in which we react individually and collectively to the changes that do occur in our lives and organizations. For many years, we have known that a change curve is commonly found when new ideas or practices are introduced. We now know that this change curve is closely related to the two factors I have already identified: inertia and interlocking subsystems. First, let me describe the change curve. Typically, when a new idea or practice is introduced there is an initial increase in productivity, energy, motivation, optimism and other desired outcomes.
This initial uplift may be caused by the successful promotion of the change, by the willingness of everyone to try something new (since the old isn’t working very well) or by boredom associated with always doing the same old thing. If nothing else, there is curiosity about how the new idea or process will operate—even if this curiosity is nothing more than morbid curiosity (the lure of an impending train wreck). This initial uplift is usually short-lived. Productivity, energy, motivation and optimism soon drop off and the change curve plummets. There are three fundamental reasons for the typically drop: (1) the change requires the acquisition of new skills, knowledge, attitudes and these come slowly (the movement of cortical functions from the procedural to the expository brain), (2) the change will necessarily impact on other subsystems which are not yet ready to adjust and change themselves, and (3) the change has been sold without sufficient recognition that there will be this drop off (leading to a sense of betrayal, increased cynicism and pervasive pessimism). At some point the change curve hits bottom. The drop off is greater if the skill, knowledge and attitude requirements are great, if many interlocking subsystems are impacted, and if the change has been dramatically oversold (carefree change that improves everything). In many cases, as the change curve plummets, another change is introduced. This change produces yet another downward heading change curve and yet another change. We often find that a crisis-of-crises takes place and the client or organization is in deep trouble.Download Article 1K Club