We’re going to have to learn a lot of new skills in the times ahead.
And the first way we’ll try to expand our skills is by bringing forward those we had and have let go of.
I’ve watched myself do that several times in the last month. I was in Configuration Management (CM) once, which is the business of tracking baselines and administering change control on large projects.
I’ve been using version control on blog documents that have been changing. I’ve been rearranging and organizing my hard drive to make the location of things logical and easy, another aspect of CM. I’ve even used CM on my new apartment, creating a list of everything in it and where it’s located.
Another example is that I’ve been bringing forward the skills I learned as a human-rights decision-maker. For instance, we had to use Perro (neutral language) or a higher court would have overturned us on a presumption of bias. We had to remain impartial, which helps in the appreciation of oneness. These are skills that I had that I’m re-introducing into my tool box.
We’re not only going to need to reactivate and rehone old skills; we’re going to need to apply them in circumstances that may not resemble the previous occasions towards problems they may not have been designed to solve. Let me give you an example of that, again from my personal history.
I once worked for a maker of remote-sensing, digital-imaging equipment. On one occasion, I was able to see some disturbing undercurrents with a potential customer and help rescue a large contract that was probably headed for oblivion.
The customer was not saying things that needed to be said. They were withholding vital aspects of their situation from us and everyone. These withheld matters were factors upon which any deal between us and them would rest. They were deal-breakers.
I came upon the realization I’m about to describe by applying restorative-listening techniques to the literature in which our customer figured.
The customer was the Survey of India (SOI) and we were trying to sell them satellite digital-imaging equipment. SOI were sounding very polite and interested and yet were very hard to bring to the table. They were dragging their feet.
Nonetheless they were now sending a delegation to our company to hear our presentation and I was assigned to write the graphics panels for an exhibit.
So it was a case of the guy in the basement writing the board of directors, so to speak, and hoping someone would listen.
I had earlier asked permission to review the literature and found that a war was being fought in Indian remote sensing. SOI was the grand dame of Indian mapping but they predominantly did street maps. They used digitized aerial photography, the close-to-the-ground stuff. They were not interested in satellite digital imagery.
They’d paid dearly for not getting on board with satellite. Many of the junior agencies spawned by SOI switched to satellite and ceased to see SOI as a leader in the field. If SOI looked too antiquated, they could lose their funding and be phased out of operation.
I looked at the members of the commission that SOI was sending and they were all figures well known in aerial mapping, not in satellite.
So I sounded the alarm and hoped someone was listening. I advised the company to emphasize aerial mapping and be ready to switch to satellite only if SOI requested it. If they didn’t, leave it. SOI would return to it later. SOI’s sensitivities as an organization that depended heavily on aerial mapping had to be recognized and catered to first, I said.
What we were doing was to take into account the situation of the customer and fashion our approach to him in a way that catered to his needs, not to our estimate of what progress or our needs demanded. That fits with the restorative-listening emphasis on putting aside our agenda and hearing things as they’re being stated, not as we’d like them to be.
Fortunately the field representative lent his support and said that that put in words exactly what he had been trying to say for months.
The point I’m making is that I applied listening theory to business. I listened to what the client was saying and what they were not saying.
We’re going to need to improvise, innovate, and bring forward all our skills, and apply them in new and unconventional ways and settings in the months ahead.
We are change agents, change architects, change angels. And that includes managing the process of change.
In the process of change, which we’re working with, there is such a thing as change control, that sees that change occurs smoothly.
It doesn’t stand in the way of change. It assists change to occur as expeditiously and efficiently as possible, without creating new problems.
If we want society at large to feel comfortable with the large-scale change that will be happening all around us, how much of a contribution it would be to show that we’re capable of managing change.