50 Shades of Change

I have never been change-averse.  Over the course of my career, I have taken the Change Style Indicator several times.  It’s an assessment tool that measures a person’s preferred style in approaching, addressing, and managing change.  Your score puts you somewhere on the change style spectrum of Conserver, Pragmatist, or Originator:

Conservers are cautious, deliberate, and prefer incremental change that does not significantly disrupt the existing structure or system.  They may appear resistant to change but they are also thoughtful about all the details and consequences.

Pragmatists are open to necessary, functional change and help facilitate it  by listening, mediating, planning, and carefully considering all of the issues as they seek common ground.  They are the practical project managers who actually make the change happen.

Originators are the disruptors with big ideas and a high tolerance for risk.  They prefer change that is fast and radical and paradigm-shifting.  They may appear to be unfocused, unorganized, and undisciplined, but they are more focused on the big, unconventional ideas than the details that surround them.

Seemingly unfocused, unorganized, and undisciplined?  Check, check, and check.  I have taken the assessment three times over the past 8-10 years and each time, I move even further along the Originator end of the spectrum.  Last summer, as part of a Leadership Institute, I took it again and actually maxed out my score.  Does that make me better or worse than others who are more conservative or pragmatic about change?  Nope.  

No one preferred change style is, well, preferred.  The point is to understand that everyone reacts to and thinks about change differently.  And well-managed change takes all kinds to execute.  And a well-managed team should be aware of how each member approaches change.

Think about a major change that you have been through at your library.  If it was a successful one, there was most likely someone with the big idea, someone who pushed back a little and wanted to slow down, and someone who managed the implementation of the change and kept the team on task and target.  If it wasn’t a successful one, then I’m guessing you didn’t have this mix of styles.

While my score doesn’t make me better or worse than anyone else, it does make me more aware – of my change style and others.   I have a better sense of how people understand me and my approach to change. I have more empathy for how conservers deliberate about change and more respect for the pragmatists who get it done, as an originator I tend not to deliberate much  and I need a lot of help to actually execute change.

I’ve taken many assessments over the years and this is one of the most meaningful and useful for me.  You can learn more about the instrument – and read some good articles about leading through change – here.

Have you taken this assessment?  What did you think?

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