Resolution and Change

A new year focuses the mind on change.

Resolving to change is a pivotal step in any innovation, whether in personal life, business, or somewhere in between. The first principle of change is that most sound decisions for change rest upon knowing your values. Change is hard, so to go through all that trouble, it helps to believe in what you’re doing.

The second principle of change is that systems matter. Although values are pivotal for tipping the balance towards a new direction, relying on values to maintain a new course over time is a weak strategy. Values work better at shaping the big decisions in life than in guiding the day-to-day details.

One limit on the power of values is that people have many dimensions. They have more than one value in the mix. From moment to moment, the exact mix of wants, desires, and aspirations vary. This flow keeps life interesting, confirming the complexity of your existence, but doesn’t help your focus. There is a fickle quality the living life in the moment.

Systems look after the day-to-day little decisions. Rather than digging deeply into your core values at every juncture to consider whether to stay the course on your change strategy, you can stay much closer to the surface. You simply recall the elements of your system.

Embedding respect throughout worklife rests upon core values about the nature of people and relationships. Organizations or small workgroups resolve to embed respect in their interactions among employees and with clients. It is easy to appeal to core values: everyone readily agrees to valuing respect; no one raises an objection. But hard experience shows that individuals and organizations fall short of realizing that value in their worklife.

Successfully increasing respect throughout a workplace community needs a system. An excellent system guides people though the little decisions that emerge in day-to-day life. It guides personal choices and organizational policies.

Without a strong system, lofty resolutions fade quickly in the new year.

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