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Friday, July 08, 2005

Support Raising as Deep Change

Charlie writes...

I just read the book "Deep Change" by Robert E. Quinn, which had the following comments which I thought relevant to the process of support raising (pages 84-86):

Deep change works in a similar way. Once we have our sense of direction, we need to get organized, pack our gear, get motivated, and move on out. This process introduces new information and allows us to make choices and progress and grow our way forward. The process also transmits signals to others, and they are attracted by our courage and motivation.

I am often reminded of Gandhi, early in his career, in South Africa. He had developed a vision and was working toward it. One day, a man arrived from another country and volunteered to join Gandhi. The man asked, "Aren't you surprised that I've shown up like this?" "No," Gandhi replied. He pointed out that when one discovers what is right and begins to pursue it, the necessary people and resources seem to turn up.

Trusting in our vision enough to start our journey into the chasm of uncertainty, believing that the resources will appear, can be very difficult. The fact that we have enough trust and belief in ourselves to pursue our vision is what signals to others that the vision is worth investing in. Our message is filled with integrity and good intentions. However, it is usually our actions, not our words, that send the message.

Acting on a vision that exceeds our resources is a test of our vision, faith, and integrity. Once C. K. Prahalad and I ran a strategic planning workshop for forty-two business school deans and their associates. They were a tough audience. They had little patience for our "theories." They wanted to get their strategic plans done.

We let them prepare their strategic plans and then provided some feedback. C.K. reviewed what he saw going on in many of the planning groups. They reviewed their resources, clarified their objectives, and then budgeted their resources for the upcoming period.

C.K. promised them that if all went well, they would be, at best, mediocre. Why? Because they were letting their present resources determine their future. They had plans, not visions. A vision would lead them toward a plan that exceeded their present resources.

His comments made the deans furious. Their level of denial and rejection soared. They accused us of being unrealistic and specified numerous constraints that made it unrealistic to think in the way that C.K. was suggesting. We listened for a long time. Finally, I asked if there were any business schools in the last ten years that had been transformed. They listed several. We chose one and analyzed the initial impossible situation it was in. We evaluated the strange and risky things that were undertaken by the dean of that particular school. Gradually, the complaints stopped, and the group began to show some interest in trying to understand what C.K. was saying.

Caught in a similar situation, most of us will react in exactly the same way. It is much easier and safer for us to stay within the zone of certainty, particularly if we are mired in the slow death dilemma and suffering. The challenges arise as we contemplate deep change. We must reach a point of ultimate despair and frustration before we seriously think about initiating deep change.

Tackling deep change and facing a new future, we must be willing to get lost with confidence. This confidence, along with tenacity, will guide our actions as we begin to build the bridge toward our vision. It is only when we experience deep change that the new vision comes into view. When we can actually "see" our vision, we must be willing to put it into action.

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