Deconstructing the Past to Build a Stronger Future
How a person accepts and adapts to change is a pretty personal decision. Some people like to wait and see how things shape up before acting or responding to change. Others jump in immediately and just go with it, relying on impulse and quick decision-making.
Whatever the approach, we always need to gain some kind of traction and forward-movement as we move ahead if we hope to make an anticipated goal come true in the face of change.
Many times, we need to deconstruct our understanding of the change that’s taking place rather than just remodel around it in order to attain the best outcome.
When you deconstruct the elements of change, you take apart what’s happening around you piece by piece. In an office setting, for example, deconstruction might involve getting used to the idea of working from home—something that wasn’t a norm a few years ago, but constitutes 50 percent of today’s workforce. In a relationship, it may involve blending two families together.
Deconstructing change in an organization may mean redesigning all of the functions in the organization because, with an economic market shift, its existing market is significantly different than what it was in the past. The construction industry experienced this shift a few years ago when new home sales plummeted on account of the rocky economy.
The ultimate goal of deconstruction involves understanding the mechanisms behind the change taking place and what’s making this change tick.
On the other hand, when you remodel around change—or develop a superficial understanding of the change taking place—you’re just making improvements. Remodeling causes a perceptual limitation because you’re unwilling to take things down to the bare studs. Remodeling happens for a variety of reasons—reasons such as time, costs, or even fear.
Don’t get me wrong, oftentimes, remodels are good. And, in a day and age where “faster” means “better,” many people default to remodeling when they’re dealing with change.
After we remodel to accept and adapt to change quickly, we look really good—but really good for how long? How will our perspective and attitude hold up before the cheap handle falls off the door, the paint peels, and the new windows leak?
If we’re dealing with minor change that doesn’t affect an entire system, then remodeling is probably an economical way to make a difference in the bottom-line. But what happens when continuous process improvement doesn’t gain us the long-term outcomes that we want and we find ourselves at a juncture in our process improvement plan?
Many executives are facing this exact quandary.
Shifting and looking from a whole different window pane, or even better, constructing a whole new wall with glass that goes floor to ceiling maybe what we need to really make change happen. In other words, when we’re dealing with change and its complexities, we need to move away from superficial understandings (or remodeling) in order to make better informed, effective decisions—a product of deconstruction—in the long run.
Here are four simple steps that can help you gain traction in the face of change:
- Look at the goal you want to reach and be willing and able to articulate how you plan to reach this goal using metrics and benchmarking.
- Assess your past pattern of behavior. Have you tried this before? If so, what did you learn last time your tried it? What will you do differently this time?
- Is there more to the change you’re experiencing than meets the eye? Does it really force you to “deconstruct” your life in order to succeed or will a simple “remodel” do?
- Once you're clear on whether the change you face calls for a deconstruction or a remodel, make a plan, incorporating the time, treasure, and talent necessary to be successful.
Deconstruction takes time and can be challenging as you encounter different facets you weren’t expecting. Ultimately though, understanding how all the components of change work together is the best way to build a stronger future.
Jean Meeks-Koch, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of Positive Eye Consulting and is a special guest contributor to Rethinking Complexity. She earned her Ph.D. in organizational systems at Saybrook University.