The raw material of change

Photo by Regiane Tosatti on

We often have a curious approach to change. We involve people from outside the business to bring along a template and force people into something that doesn’t fit through several terrabytes of PowerPoint slides, much broadcasting of encouraging slogans, and powerful incentives. A sort of HR “shock and awe”.

We do it like that because we are impatient, and want measurable change quickly and efficiently. It doesn’t of course happen like that. Change happens at it’s own pace, takes its own direction and will not be told. If we force it into a template, its rather like casting a pot rather than throwing it. It’s fast, cheap and fragile, with no direct human involvement. The first sign of frost and it cracks.

If we want to harness change we have to work with it in the same way an artisan potter works with the clay. The relationship is tactile, and is a form of dialogue with the raw material. The end result is strong, unique, and beautiful. What results is a form of collaboration – part what the potter envisaged, and part what the clay wants to be.

I don’t think it matters whether the raw material is clay, wood, or people. Change is an art form and a similar collaboration – part what the designer wants, and part what the material wants, with every result unique.

Mass production templates are fine if we want disposable cheap commodities that we are willing to abandon. If, however, we want to have something of lasting beauty we need understand the raw material, respect it and craft it. We need to get hands on and involved, and be accountable for the results.

Change is more powerful than we are.

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