When you’re at work in your job or in your volunteer organization, how long is the time span you’re considering when making decisions?
Do you think about today, the next few weeks or the next ten years?
If you manage people or lead an organization, what is the time span your people are considering? Do you know?
Someone’s time span matters because it is, in part, a reflection of your organization’s effectiveness.
Even as far back as 1957 researchers documented that in a strong command-and-control organization a person’s time span shrinks as the organization demands passivity to management, submissive subordination to rules (and leaders) and dependency upon others.
These factors sum into a regression to the time span of infancy (the day or the moment) in once capable adults. Chris Argyris wrote about this in his early work Personality and Organization: The Conflict Between System and Individual.
Put into the terms of Engine for Change, what Argyris was documenting was a part of the psychological effects of driving people.
Introduced in any organization, room to drive change acts as a powerful and quick acting antidote to the regressive infancy. When you drive change you watch each person’s time span rapidly returning back to a normal, adult range. They become curious about and motivated toward creating the long-term future for the organization and they are ready to act.
When you drive change you replace passivity, submissive subordination, and dependency. Instead you get someone’s personal passion for a change combined with their advocacy for the change that matters to them linked with the creation of their own plan to reach their goal. It’s amazing to watch.
If you’re struggling to get the people in your job or your volunteer group to look out past today, just check to see how much you are driving people and inducing passivity, submissive subordination and dependency.
Then, start driving change and watch your time horizons expand together.
Why not try?