learning is the new changing

At university I learned the “unfreeze – change – freeze” model, which is ridiculous of course, no need to get further into that. Later, in my role as “Change Management Consultant” we were using the “Structural Tension” change model, where you create a pull “from here to there”. Life does not have a destination. This won’t help either. We have no idea where we should want to be in 3 or 10 years from now. How can we describe a desired future state? It will always be a different version of what we know already, therefore it can only be past based.

I don’t see how old ideas and concepts of “Change Management” are helpful in an ever changing and moving world, where one moment arises out of the next one. Where possibilities are endless in every single moment. Where people start to align around purpose and vision rather than strategy and plans. When shifting customer needs become the core guiding principle rather than production plans.

Change is not a project! 

I stopped considering change management an “object”, a “project” altogether. This suggests that there might be a stable situation once the change is done and the future state has been reached. People are kept in the illusion of an end to change – which his pure delusion – and this will lead to nothing more than growing frustration, disappointment, exhaustion and change-burn-out. Who wants change? Everybody. Who wants to change? Nobody. Lets stop talking about change as if it was something special, something extra, something that needs a project, consultants, special skills and not an always ongoing, never stopping flow called life.

From changing to learning

Learning is in danger of becoming a new bullshit buzzword. So lets dig a little deeper in what could be meant by learning. We can consider learning an activity such as learning how to play piano or Chinese. It is the acquisition of a new skill, an internalizing of something that has been developed by other people or cultures.

Learning as an attitude

The learning I am talking about is not so much an activity but rather an attitude. It is a way of being rather than a means of doing. Being in an attitude of learning doesn’t need a process but a learning mindset: a new way of looking out into the world around me, seeing things as “they are”, being very aware of the present moment. The guidance is more an inner compass nurtured from purpose, a sense of direction, maybe a vague vision, rather than a fixed idea of where I want to go, how it should feel and look like and making reality wrong every single time it doesn’t show up according to my ideas, plans and concepts.

Manifestation, not implementation

For Leadership and Organizations this means a step by step approach. After they have done their homework of clearing their mind about purpose, vision and strategic directions, the messy part of manifestation starts (a term I recommend in replacement of  implementation, which again suggests an external truth (a thing) being internalized).

Learning is not a theoretical loop like: experiment  – reflect – learn or take any other learning-loop-model, but it happens every moment when you gain new insights by looking openly onto a situation as it is. By doing so you will be making space for new insights and ideas to emerge in the very moment. A next step would be sharing your insights and develop new mini-steps. This can happen 5 times a day, or 20 or once a month.

The activity of manifesting new learning is to lead an ongoing conversation and share and act upon new insights together. Including so-called breakdowns as well as successes.

We can stop now talking about “Fehlerkultur”, “Feedback-Culture”, “Agile” or Change management, all that comes naturally with a new attitude of gaining insights together. The activity of leadership is to create space for insights, sharing and manifesting, step by step, that could happen every day and every moment.