15 February 2006

The seeds of change

Do you want to see more change in the world? Do you want to see more of your ideas come to fruition? To see them become adopted by others and thrive?

You might want to start thinking smaller -- and thinking less.

Whether it's a change initiative, new product or new project, most people have a tendency to overplan when launching change. This is because the longer you think about anything and the more people are involved, the bigger and more unwieldy it becomes. The bigger it becomes the more you feel the weight of doubt and risk.

The planning process can become so cumbersome and anxiety-ridden that the initiative is never launched at all. Some people call this analysis paralysis.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your plans, you might want to start planting seeds. You don't need a budget -- just an idea for how to make things better. Here's how to start planting your ideas in the world:

Think small
Don't try to solve the problems of the world in one go. Don't convene a committee or ask permission. Just start the change at a grass-roots level and see what happens. Take small steps in the right direction. Plant seeds: small things that you can give sustained attention and energy to over time. If it works, people will notice and start to follow your lead.

Trust the universe
Not every idea is a good one. Trust the universe to accept and adopt good ideas. Think Darwin and natural selection: if the "seeds" of your idea are good and they fall on fertile ground, they will bear fruit. If they are not bearing fruit it could be for two reasons:
1. The ideas are no good!
2. You are planting your ideas in hostile or barren ground. It might be time to move on.

Let things die
If your ideas don't catch on, don't think of it as failure, but as a learning experience. Keep planting. The more ideas that you plant, the more you will learn. Persistence and passion are more important than genius.

Ideas need some care and nurturing if they are to take root, and with ideas, success is usually achieved through other people. Look for ways to create feedback loops. Listening to your "customers" can help you see opportunities to hone your thoughts and make them more useful to others. Adoption is the key to success.

Progress, not perfection
If your idea stays in the planning stages you'll never know if it could have changed the world. It doesn't have to be perfect. Get it out there and start making things happen.


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Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I have some big personal projects that I would love to start, but I keep bogging myself down in worrying about every angle and eventuality, that nothing has started yet.

Baby steps... baby steps.

Anonymous said...

What a marvelous philosophy. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Words of wisdom.

A long time ago, a business teacher of mine told me "Perfection leads to constipation." I suffered from it on a few occasions since and learned from my mistakes, but still catch myself leaning over that fine line on occasion.

Seeing this in writing yet again is a good reminder.


Anonymous said...

Great advice for any project. Thanks for reminding me of Occam's Razor - keep it simple.

Anonymous said...

Great timing. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave~

I agree with this post "in concept" but I struggle with it "in practice" for a few reasons.

1 - I think this post is too negative towards the really big forward thinkers, the invention people, the BIG ideas people. THEY MUST PERSEVERE!

2 - I think this post is practical for most people who want little bits of change, or struggle with procrastination.

3 - Change will always be work. If it's worth having, it's worth working for.

Many of my ideas would have been squashed, if I were to think to strictly about what you posted. That being said, I've also had to learn the hard way with alienating some people versus getting things done and getting good ideas to go through - because I believe in them. Not to be to ego-centric, but I think many of my ideas are great. I really wish more other people would do that about their ideas. Many others who are way smarter than I am have many great ideas and really would benefit from a little bit more persistence and a little bit more pain tolerance to deal with the naysayers.

Best regards,
~Toby Getsch


Unknown said...

Well Toby, I guess it comes down to how much you believe in your ideas, and how much pain you are willing to go through to see your ideas come to fruition.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Interesting piece on change.

I like that you speak about working in increments and something that's exactly what change needs to be (developmental). However, there are also those transformational changes that can take place in individuals, teams, organization, or communities. These changes can be large in scale, complex, and can move very quickly. Just because something is complex (or bigger), I don't believe it necessarily become more unwieldy.

Also, I like what you say about change being an iterative process. Too often people/teams/orgs see change as an equation or linear process.

Last piece I'd like to pick up on is involvement of people. In my experience, the more relevant people I involve in my change process, the easier the transition will be. The key factor here in order not to get stuck is to have enabling processes in place that will act as a container for those folks to work within.

I'll stop here for today. Thanks for starting the conversation!

BTW - Your company sound incredibly interesting. I look foward to reading a little deeper into your site(s)!

Unknown said...

These are all very interesting thoughts -- thanks!