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Culture shock

As coaches, we often talk about changing an organisation’s culture to achieve better outcomes. Be they an improved time to market or keeping your staff for longer. This is something we often know needs to happen. It’s something that our clients know needs to happen.

We often forget that the change may be more traumatic than anticipated. The effects of even a small change can be quite extreme, for that individual at least.

This was brought back very much into focus recently at the hospital.

Enter Bubble and Boo

My wife is pregnant. We were at the 12-week scan to check that everything was okay and get a due date. Nothing unusual.

If I’m honest, we were a bit worried about the scan. The pregnancy hadn’t gone as smoothly as the previous two. All sorts of things just didn’t seem right. I went in expecting the worst but hoping for the best.

The sonographer started the scan. Relief really did wash over me when I saw the small, potato-shaped person move on the screen.

Then it happened:

Congratulations, it’s twins.

What I said in response was not something my mother would want to hear. To say I was caught unaware would be an understatement. No family history of twins. No idea it would happen to us.

At first, we went into a mild shock, it wasn’t bad news. In fact, it was good; the baby, or more accurately, babies, seemed healthy. It was unexpected. Very.

We left the hospital to collect our two boys, talking about what we’d need to do before the summer. Buying new cars and a new house is relatively high on the list.

The next day it really hit home; I went into shock again. Shaking, racing pulse, feeling faint. Not a pleasant experience.

It isn’t always the bad

One thing this did bring home is that shock isn’t always triggered by a bad experience. What it takes is a sufficiently traumatic experience.

Quite a lot of what we do when introducing Agile has the ability to shake people up. We talk about culture shifts within the organisation but can easily forget the impact on the individuals.

The worst effect of mild shock is the inability to focus; luckily, this is normally fairly short-lived. It took me a couple of days to come out of a daze and start working properly again.

However, if you have someone particularly resistant to change or finding the process too far outside their comfort zone, they may be going through a series of mild shocks. I dread to imagine how I would feel if I had a similar experience every week or two.

For more article’s on change, read Be the change you want to see in the office

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