How fast can you go?

In my own, fully experimental, non-research supported method, I’ve found two ways to judge someone’s capacity for speed (of change).

1.  Listen for their verbal clues.  What do they say when presented with something much better, faster, cheaper than they thought possible?

Do they verbally lean into the speed of the change and say:

  • Thank you!
  • How did you do that?  How can I do that?
  • Can you do that again?
  • Wow!

Or do they instead:

  • Complain about the speed with which you made the change  (usually without a reason for why the speed is bad).
  • Encourage you not to share your success with others (and provide an elaborate reason why).
  • Complain about the age, experience, fill-in-the blank of you or the person achieving the change (ignoring the change itself).
  • Ask you who told you to do that (this is the worst when it’s your boss asking you the question).
  • Ignore the outcome entirely (as though you passed so fast before their eyes they didn’t even see you as a blur).

2.  Watch for the behavioral clues.  What do they do when presented with something much better, faster, cheaper than they thought possible?

Do they physically lean into the speed of change and:

  • Pull the person close and ask for more.
  • Create opportunities for their people to achieve the same success.
  • Gather others together to see the success for themselves.
  • Defend you from others who are trying to crush you or your success.

Or do they instead:

  • Turn away when you talk about the success.
  • Lean in to the discussions of the negatives or downfalls of going faster.
  • Nod when others undermine the success.
  • Act to isolate you or the success.
  • Say (while walking away), “Yes, but you didn’t fix this, that and the other thing too.”

Most people don’t always lean into change or always pull back , but you don’t want to know what they always do.  You want to know what they’re doing today.

When you’re driving change you need to know at your point in time and relative to the change you’re driving:

How fast can Suzie or Julie, Danny or Jay go?  Is she, or is he, leaning into or pulling back from this change (or from all change)?

Sometimes knowing the answer to “How fast can you go?” of those around you is enough to keep you moving, if only because the knowledge points you in the opposite direction of the change-killers.

Keep driving.  You’re doing a great job!

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One thought on “How fast can you go?

  • March 26, 2010 at 11:56 am
    Permalink

    Great observations! A lot of times it seems that people are attempting to slow others down or resist change because of reasons that don’t logically make sense… like envy, greed, etc.

    However, I think all change agents need to make empathy a top priority in their persistent efforts. What may seem like envy could instead be a great idea from someone who is just an introvert.

    We all have blind spots and sometimes it takes a person, which is often perceived to be a roadblock, to help us identify those things we just can’t see ourselves.

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