Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Taking Down An Old Wall To Install A Door

I know some of you have been hanging out hoping that maybe someday I'll run out of stupid things to post and actually say something intelligent. Probably not going to happen. But depending on who you are and what your expectation levels might be: this may make some sense to you. And it's all predicated on not what I might say, but what an old carpenter once told me.

I live in a house that may be well over 100 years old. In those days they started small (as in "shack") and built out and up. The above photo is of an outside wall exposed during a recent reno to put in a patio door. Once the outside facade was removed the patchwork pieces of scraps that once enclosed an old doorway were revealed. Being one that admires "make do" ingenuity I went "cool." But to the carpenter on the job, it seemed more like a mess.

I had asked the carpenter before the work began what would be involved and how long it would take. His response has stayed with me since... "We won't know until we get in there."

I've worked on the communication end of Total Quality Management (TQM), Business Process Re-engineering, Six Sigma programs for government, high tech and academic institutions. What has been consistent throughout all change management activities, is that it is a top-down process of discovery, learning and continuous communication rather than a rigid plan based on predetermined judgment. Because what may have seemed clear-cut during the planning stages can all change after you begin to remove the layers. Once you begin to reveal the structure of what had been done before, you are then in the position to assess the workforce needs, the time and support tools required.

Just like taking down an old wall to install a doorway.

Okay, I'll lighten up tomorrow. Three Stooges anyone?


  1. I think it was Patton who said (I may not remember the words exactly) "No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy." That is just as applicable in change management, I think.

  2. I think I'm going to use the picture of your patchwork wall in my next talk on change management. I hope to temper the enthusiasm without dampening it with the need for patience.

  3. Colin, I think so as well...

    Lynn Marie, hope it helps!

    Cheers to both!