Sunday, June 24, 2007

Three Keys to change

If you had to change or die -would you?

An articel based on a new book 'Change or Die: The Three Keys of Change' provides insights into making real lasting changes in the most difficult of situations.

The article makes the point this is not about making the 'normal' changes that happen all the time. It is normal to experiment, to get exited about new ideas, and we all learn from experience as we respond to new challenges. Some of us are better at change than others but we are all resilient and creative, to a greater or lesser degree. Younger people cope with change more easily than older people as they have not become so fixed in their ways but every one can change.

The article asks what if you were in life or death situation would you change? Yes is the obvious answer but the odds are against you by nine to one!

Three examples from the book are given.

In the health area people remain sick because of how they choose to lead their lives - too much smoking, drinking and lack of exercise. What is more shocking is that when asked to change life styles( or die) following traumatic heart surgery fewer than 3% do!

But it has been found 77% of patients stick with their lifestyle changes when they were involved with a range of therapies( it didn't matter which) that required them to take part in regular group conversations.

The second example relates to prison inmates after they are released. Normally 35% of inmates are rearrested within six months and 65% within three years. Rehabilitation seems of little use.

In San Fransisco there is an exception, a city block has been had become a residence where 500 criminal live and work together with one professional staffer.The felons run the place themselves , taking responsibility for each other, kicking out anyone who uses drugs, alcohol, or those who use threats of violence. Although most of them are illiterate they teach each other marketable skills, run businesses and support themselves with the profits. 60 % of people who enter make it through to lead lawful productive lives; in contrast to 6 out of 10 'normal' released inmates return to crime.

The third example of dramatic lasting change occurred in a American failing car manufacturing firm that was taken over by Toyota. Toyota set about creating a new sense of mutual trust ( not part of the previous management style) amongst the suspicious workers and within three months the factory was rolling out cars with hardly any defects - an incredible feat. Workers were now being asked for their ideas on improving quality- a new experience for them.

The heart patients, the ex-convicts, and the car workers, had all proved the 'experts' wrong.

The changes were not made because of facts, figures or 'evidence', or because people are rational, or that knowledge is power, nor even through fear,crisis, or authority; but they did change, even in such 'impossible' situations.

The book, and article, presents a simple idea - that virtually anyone can change if they can change their deep-rooted patterns ( 'mindsets') of how they think, feel and act. And that this change can occur with surprising speed even when people feel powerless or the situation hopeless.

It is not possible to sum up all the aspects of making such changes but there are three change keys that underpin all examples.

The first is relate. If you form an emotional relationship with a person or community that inspires and sustains hope. It seems you need the influence of seemingly 'unreasonable' people to restore your hope - to make you believe that you can change and expect that you will change. This is an act of 'selling' - the community, or leaders, have to make you really believe you have the ability to change. They have to 'sell' themselves as your partners, mentors, role models, and sources of new knowledge and specific strategies.

The second key to change is repeat. The new relationship helps you practice and master new habits and skills that you'll need. It takes lots of repetition, over time, before new patterns of behaviour becomes automatic and seem natural- until you can use them without thinking.It helps to have a great teacher, coach, or mentor, to give you guidance, encouragement and direction along the way. Change doesn't just requires 'selling' but also 'training'.

The final key is to reframe. the new relationship helps you learn new ways of thinking about your situation ( your 'mindset') and your life. You are able to look at the world in a new way - you have literally 'changed your mind'.

These are the three keys to change: relate, repeat,and reframe.

New hope, new skills, and new thinking.

This may sound simple but the article writer assures us that it is not. Too many people, who run our organisations, are trapped in old, 'facts, fear and force', thinking.

But with these keys you have all you need to get started.

To me they would work well in a school -particularly a school with numbers of students who are 'failing'. The ideas have much in common with the research behind the excellent Kotahitanga Project develop by Waikato University, or the thinking behind the move towards 'personalised learning', or the powerful 'learning communities' ideas developed by creative teachers and schools.

The same underlying principles are the 'active ingredients' to unlock profound change in any situation. They are easily understood and available to be applied by anyone who wants to make a real difference.

The common belief is the importance of positive relationships that inspire hope and and self belief.

The book referred to is 'Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life', by Alan Deutschman. The article referred to is published in the magazine Fast Company.


Anonymous said...

Your new blog ( Te Kotahitanga) is a good example of the 'three keys' of change that this blog refers to: 'relationships', 'repeating' (training) and 'reframing'.

Anonymous said...

If dramatic changes can be made in the health area, with tough car workers, or with hardened criminals, then changing secondary schools should be a piece of cake!