Dave's Ponderings on
Organizational and Systemic Resilience
Leading through and within change requires people and leaders who are resilient.
This first Pondering shares a little about our history and thoughts on CHANGE & RESILIENCY.
Following almost 25 years promoting and modeling organizational resilience through capacity development and leveraging as the general manager of a water and telecommunications public utility, it was time for a personal change. That change took me to Saudi Arabia for 13 months to provide executive coaching on customer centric behaviors and organizational commitment to quality service with the National Water Company of Saudi Arabia. Upon returning from Saudi Arabia, we have spent the last three years traveling the country and world. We have been listening to people talking about their hopes for organizations they place their trust in and have refined our focus based on that feedback. A while back, in a conversation with a general manager colleague of mine, he made the following observation … “Dave, you're still working to change the world!” … and I guess I am … one organization and system at a time.
Change … it can be sudden and traumatic like the unexpected death of a parent or child, the loss of a job, the ending of a relationship, a natural disaster; and it can be gradual and barely noticeable (When did I gain those 15 pounds?). The only thing certain about change is … well … change. It is said to be the only constant. While change can sometimes be freeing and exhilarating, it more often conjures up feelings of fear, failure and futility. Aggregate these personal fears and now you have the reality facing many formerly stable organizations. We yearn for when times were better … or at least how we think we remember them as being better.
I have come to believe that leading through and within change requires people and leaders who can constantly learn, look for fresh insights across multiple sectors and inspire strategic, flexible, creative responses or initiatives – people and leaders who are resilient. It also requires people to be respectful and compassionate with those most affected in unknown ways by pending changes. Fear paralyzes people and organizations. To face our fears and effectively live into change, we must have care and concern, trust and openness, and empathy which creates safe spaces to grow and adapt to an emerging and different future, both personally and organizationally. I have found repeatedly from personal experience that collaborating with others has both a ripple and compounding effect in positively shaping the future. Collaborating with others has aided me in being resilient – being able to thrive while oriented toward the future.
Systematically building on the collective stories, experiences, assets and visions of those we work with while confronting contradictions lays the groundwork for strengthening personal and organizational resilience. Resilience in turn fosters experimentation with, and exploration of, future challenges and opportunities as they emerge with adaptive and innovative mind-sets. For me, I guess, it is important to realize that each new day brings an opportunity to look and live forward … while building on the lessons of the past.
In future Ponderings, I will more fully explore change, resiliency and other topics. I look forward to your thoughts as well if you are open to sharing.
Until next time, I wish for you a resilient and flourishing life and organization!