How to Predict the Future

By |2019-12-07T19:52:53+11:00December 7th, 2019|Categories: Change Fitness, Change Readiness, Managing Change, The Change Gym|

How useful would it be if you could predict with pinpoint accuracy what will happen in the future? Imagine you could accurately predict the performance of a coaching client over a given time period. Or suppose you could accurately predict how effective any given organisational change approach would be in the long-term.

If you could make those kinds of predictions, you’d have a lot of influence over the future. But is it remotely possible? How confident can you be about what will happen down the track? Well, let’s explore this and see what we can learn.

Computers playing chess

You might have seen chess apps for IOS or Android. These programs can beat the best human chess players in the world. Why? Because computers are better than people at solving the sort of problems you find in chess. Chess is a system with strict rules of what is allowed and what is not, and there are a finite number of possible moves at any given time. Computers excel at situations where there are clear and fixed rules and limited options (even if there are thousands of them).

But computers struggle in situations where the rules are not clear. They struggle when you can’t give them all the variables, and how they affect one another. That’s why they aren’t good at predicting what the weather will be like in 8 days from now.

Butterflies in Brazil

You may have heard of the ‘butterfly effect’. This is the idea that a butterfly fluttering its wings in the rainforests of Brazil could potentially cause a tornado in Kansas. As strange as this might sound, it illustrates something real about how the world works.

Many of the things we deal with in life don’t work like the game of chess. There are no clear rules about how they should work and there are no guarantees that if you do ‘a’ you will get ‘b’.  In fact, you might get something quite unexpected. You might take tiny butterfly steps and get tornado results.

Many things in life work like this. We make decisions at certain points in our lives, and at the time we can’t even imagine that they could change our course altogether. Yet they do. Little things can have big results.

So, butterflies in Brazil teach us that life is unpredictable and that little things can have big outcomes. If that’s true, how confident can we be in predicting our professional outcomes? How can we predict whether a coaching client will make good progress, or whether our approach to organisational change will work?

Making general predictions

Computers are good at chess because there are strict rules and limited options. If you were to play against a computer chess app, I would be pretty confident in predicting the app will win. But it is much harder to predict how any of my coaching clients will perform over time.

Some are very keen at the start and I may feel confident of their success. But then things happen in their lives and their performance suffers. There are no rules governing how they will perform over time. Things happen that sometimes make it hard for them to focus on coaching. And this is even more likely to be the case with organisational change, where many more people are involved.

So, where are we left? Without any possibility of predicting change outcomes?

Not really. Because there are patterns.

You can never predict for sure how any one individual or any one organisation will perform around change, but you can make some useful predictions based on the rules that govern change and what people begin with.

There are some rules (or patterns) that describe how humans engage with change when they do it well. We call this ‘the change process’. We can predict that when people engage with change following these patterns, they are more likely to be successful, and when they don’t follow these patterns, they are less likely to be successful. That is something we can predict.

We can also predict that when people possess the psychological capacity (change fitness) to effectively engage in the change patterns that lead to success, they are more likely to succeed. And when they lack enough psychological capacity (change fitness) to engage in effective change patterns they are less likely to succeed.

And we can predict that when organisations have enough change readiness to engage in effective change patterns, they are more likely to succeed. And when they don’t have enough change readiness to engage in effective change patterns, they are less likely to succeed.

The patterns matter

Although we can never be certain how any one individual or organisation will perform, the patterns still matter. It matters how people approach the change process. It matters how much change fitness and change readiness they have. In fact, these are among the best predictors of success or failure with change.

The patterns matter: they should also matter to you.

What am I saying here? Change is not like a game of chess. There are no clear rules. Although each chess piece can only do certain things, and you can accurately predict the options each piece has, when faced with change, people begin with different capacities and they make unpredictable choices. This becomes ever more complex when more people are involved.

So, you need to look for patterns. There are patterns in how humans engage in change successfully. There are patterns in the psychological resources people need to successfully engage in the change process. And there are patterns in how organisations become ready to succeed at change projects.

When you understand these patterns, and you have ways to measure them, you can make some intelligent predictions about the likelihood of success. You can never be completely certain about success – reality doesn’t allow for that – but you can make some general predictions and act accordingly.

Acting accordingly

Let’s summarise what we have read so far. Some things in life, like chess, are bound by clear rules and there are limits to what is possible. Because of how these things function, you can sometimes predict what will happen. The chess computer will almost always win. And the casino will almost always win in the long run.

But other things in life operate according to fuzzy rules with variables that can’t be easily identified or controlled. The outcomes of these things are much harder to predict. That said, there are patterns we can observe.

Change, whether individual or organisational, is almost always something of the second kind. It has fuzzy rules and obscure variables. Therefore, you must act accordingly.

How do you do that? First, don’t approach change as though it were a chess game. It’s good to have a plan and strategy, but don’t imagine that the rules are clear, that everyone will obey them, and that people’s options are limited by the rules. Don’t imagine that you can know all the variables and how they work. You don’t, you can’t, and people don’t follow the rules.

Instead, approach change as an explorer. Remain open. Observe. Question. Let what is there reveal itself to you. Make small changes, learn from what happens, and take the next logical steps.

Second, learn to recognise the patterns that indicate the likelihood of success or failure. Learn the patterns of the change process, of change fitness, and of change readiness. Let these patterns guide your approach to change and the people you lead.

I invite you to learn more about these success patterns. Discover how to create more of them, and how to use them to manage change. If you would like to learn how to attract greater success, I invite you to reach out to me and let’s have a chat.

Written by Dr Steve Barlow

[email protected]

What We Do

By |2019-12-04T18:13:59+11:00November 1st, 2019|Categories: Change Fitness, Change Readiness, The Change Gym|

Growing Success

We help organisations and individuals become more successful at change. We do this by developing their capacity to succeed at the change process, helping them get ready for change, and by providing actionable change management processes.

If you can’t change, you get stuck. If you’re not agile and adaptable, you can’t be competitive. If you’re not change fit, you’re not ready for the opportunities of the future.

Personal Change Fitness

Change fitness is a psychological concept that refers to an individual’s capacity to meet all the demands of the change process. The more change fitness a person has, the more likely they are to succeed at change. A person with high change fitness has a greater capacity to cope with the demands of challenging and difficult change.  As a result, they are more likely to be successful when making change. People with low change fitness tend to be more resistant to change and are more likely to disengage and quit when change becomes hard. The good news is, change fitness can be developed at any age.

Organisational Change Readiness

Organisational change readiness refers to an organisation’s capacity to meet the demands of the change process. It is much more than simply readiness to begin a change project. Change readiness consists of 6 major elements, one of which is the change fitness of  all stakeholders. When these 6 elements work together in harmony, the optimal environment is created for successful change to occur. Organisational change readiness can be grown so the organisation becomes more agile over time. Change-ready organisations are at least twice as likely to achieve successful change outcomes compared to organisations with low change readiness.

Organisational Change Management

Although there are a number of popular change management approaches in common use, we believe they are lack some critical elements. They don’t map well to the change process, nor do they integrate change readiness into their processes.   

It is important to base your change management approach firmly on the change process because this is an expression of how humans approach change when they do it well. We are hard-wired to approach change in a way that delivers optimal results, but we don’t always do it that way. Why? Because, although we have the hardware to be successful, we often don’t have the right software. We want to teach you how to approach change with the right software (thinking and knowledge).

And it is also important to integrate change readiness into the change management approach. Change readiness isn’t something to tack onto change management. It’s about the readiness to succeed at the change process, and that’s a fundamentally important issue. We can show you how to do it right, so you have the best possible chance of success.

We provide change management templates that guide you step-by-step through the change project. These are practical tools you can use day to day.

Coach Training

Part of our business involves training external and internal coaches in how to build the change fitness and change readiness of individuals and teams. If this interests you, we have accreditation pathways to teach you what you need to know.

Assessments

We provide comprehensive change readiness assessments for organisations highlighting areas of strength and weakness in change capacity and helping organisations become more change-ready.

How We Help

The Change Gym specialises in helping people develop more change fitness and helping organisations develop more change readiness. We have also developed a change management model based on the change process and with change readiness principles and practices in-built. We provide training, advice, and tools to help people and organisations become more powerful and successful around change.

This website gives you information about what we do, but we invite you to contact us directly to discuss how we can help you achieve your change goals.

HOW CHANGE FITNESS COACHING WILL HELP YOU

By |2019-02-27T13:41:14+11:00January 9th, 2019|Categories: Change Fitness, Coaching, Programs, The Change Gym|

This article will help you understand the value of working with a change fitness coach.

HIGH VALUE OUTCOMES

Success.

Have you ever watched a master at work? A master makes it look easy. However, becoming a master is anything but easy. It takes dedication, commitment, and years of practice. Becoming successful is not easy.

Becoming successful involves change. The master wasn’t always the master.

Success doesn’t make people successful. Success is what happens when we grow and learn and make the most of […]

THE CHANGE GYM – WHAT’S OUR STORY?

By |2019-02-24T11:40:05+11:00August 21st, 2018|Categories: The Change Gym|

The Change Gym began under a different name in February 2010. If you’re interested to hear our story thus far, here it is.

Let’s go back before 2010. In the first decade of the 21st century, Steve and Stephanie Barlow (the founders) worked in government jobs. Stephanie worked mainly with unemployed people, helping them with job readiness and job education programs. Steve worked in a correctional centre running anger management programs for maximum security inmates.

It is often very difficult for […]