I’ve been thinking much this week about the balance of change and continuity.
When I think about best business practices around change and continuity, I’m reminded or almost every business class/seminar I’ve taken and the discussion that ensues about operational effectiveness and organizational strategy. Organizational strategy is rooted in values- it’s about what you’re trying to deliver to the consumer and which consumers you’re trying to deliver it to. Organizational effectiveness is the day-to-day operations- how can we deliver than value to that population in the best (read: most cost-effective and revenue generating) manner.
Now, this is a blog about my personal journey- not business.
[Though one could make a pretty solid argument that the reason I’m unemployed and getting to write this blog at all is because of the difficulty that organizations (especially small non-profits) achieving balance between organizational strategy (continuity) and organizational effectiveness (change). But, I digress…]
Digression aside, now back to business or, rather, the personal. In thinking about business this week, I was reminded of a quotation shared in one of my graduate courses, ” the ability to change constantly and effectively is made easier by high-level continuity.” Taken in the context of the speaker Michael Porter, Professor at Harvard Business school and thought leader on organizational strategy, the change and continuity that is beings referenced here is business. If an organization wants to change “constantly and effectively” then they should have continuity in strategy, or organizational value/vision.
So, how does this apply to my current state of affairs?
When you Google “changing one’s life” or “how to change one’s life” dozens of links will pop up with lists and lists of “Top ten ways” or “100 strategies” or “Seven essential habits” or “Daily hacks”… for changing your life. Apparently, where our own destinies are concerned, we’re stuck down in organizational effectiveness- the “What can we/should we/do we do in the day-to-day to create change?”
It makes sense to me. We’re a culture of doing, of working, or “picking oneself up my one’s bootstraps.” Every women’s magazine I read tells me I can be fitter, prettier, wealthier, [insert an adjective here], if I just make small changes every day. But what makes that change stick? To truly incorporate change into our lives, the change has to fit into our bigger values schematic.
As part of her work coaching cancer survivors, Paula Holland de Long, of What’s Next for My Life, offers a tool to think about how to change one’s life: a personal values assessment. In this exercise she encourages readers to think about what values drive them first and then to consider how those values can be realized.
Back to unemployment. This week, as I navigate my open schedule and vast opportunity, I’ve felt a little lost in trying to figure our “what I do next.” I know how to job search, network, and draw on favors. I’m doing that already. What I’m struggling with is how to use this time to, yes, find a job, but, most importantly, to find my self and my next direction. It may be that my current career path is my next direction, but I want to consciously make that choice and not simply fall into another non-profit management position because it fits my experience and resume. So, this week, as part of my self-reflection, I’ll be taking time to complete Holland de Long’s values exercise and continue to think about change and continuity- but from a Porter-framed ideology that values continuity first and then imagines and embraces change.