Something's Up

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Step One:

Step One of the change process is the early recognition of a coming change. It is that phase while with everything going well and feeling normal, you begin to get the sensation that something is different. It can be hard to put your finger on and may be only a vague awareness that change is approaching but you know that, "Something’s up?"

The Wave of Change

It is as if there is a tidal wave rushing towards shore but no one knows it yet. There may be some signs that an astute observer could spot.

Perhaps a weather pattern, cloud formation, or barometer reading would give a clue. There is a subtle pattern of seemingly random events that if tied together would signal a coming change. Someone recognizing the pattern could begin to raise the alarm and get a head start on preparation.

The Lake and the Lily Pads

A child’s riddle that speaks to this problem of recognition. "On day one a large lake contains only a single small lily pad. Each day the number of lily pads doubles, until on the thirtieth day the lake is full of lily pads. On which day was the lake half full? The answer is the 29th day.

An astute observer would have noticed changes in the lake and could have seen a pattern. The daily doubling of lily pads should have raised some concerns. A disastrous change was coming. Consider how the lake looked on the 29th day. It was only half full. If you wanted to go swimming you could. You could go boating if you liked. There was plenty of room. Fish were plentiful and fishing was possible. The very next day disaster had struck. The lake was choked. There was no room for swimming or boating. The fish were dying. Early recognition of the doubling pattern could have enabled some action. Now it was too late. Change had struck.

Examples of Change

Think of any recent change in your life and review it to see if it fits this six step model. Can you identify what you did at each step? Let’s look at common changes in personal life and at work as examples. Let’s see if the change of cycle help’s you understand your change process.

Personal Change

"Something' up?"

"How do you know if either you or someone you care about is pregnant?" What might be some early signs? You might notice:

  • Nausea in the morning
  • Weight gain
  • Moodiness
  • Food cravings
  • Change in menstrual cycle

Suppose you wake up one morning feeling nauseated. Do you decide that you are pregnant? What if one day you are moody? Do you decide that you are pregnant? What if you notice weight gain? Do you decide that you are pregnant? If each observation is isolated you do not. What if you notice all three events and several have happened more than once? Now you might begin to consider the possibility that, "Something’s up?" You could be pregnant. With this consideration you move to step two of the change cycle and try to clearly define and understand what is happening.

Work Change

"Something's up?"   

Change in the workplace follows the same six-step cycle. Awareness develops that, "Something's up?" Observations are made that signal coming change.

Health care provides a recent example of this process. Managed health care has become a phenomenon that is sweeping across the country. With its arrival tremendous changes are wrought on the major service providers such as hospitals. Capitation and contracts push revenues down while a demand for quality remains high. The result is that many hospitals across the country have fallen onto financial hard times of downsizing and subsequent staff reductions have occurred. Some hospitals have been forced to close.

Administrators noticing this trend in news reports from different areas of the nation could easily predict that managed care will eventually reach their area with the same effect. Sensing that "Something's up?" leads to step two of the change cycle.

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