Management Matters: What Changes When Things Change

I recently ran across a client I hadn’t seen in several years. Our work together had been focused on the nature of change and the impact it had on the executive leadership team and the overall organization. He quoted a Greek philosopher who had expressed the idea that we cannot step into the same river twice.

Later that day, I received an email from my client who had done some research. The Greek philosopher he had references was Heraclitus, a scholar who lived during the late 6th century BCE. His actual proposition was that although the river stay the same, the water is always changing. While we may be the same person, due to the passage of time and our experiences, we are never exactly that same person. Heraclitus claimed that while everything is changing, some things change so that it’s possible for the continued existence of other things.

“Managing Change” (personal) and “Leading Through Change” (organizational) are two of my most requested training programs. The focus might be on:

  • The individual perspectives on change
  • The experiential and intellectual phases of change
  • Developing a comprehensive plan for change implementation
  • A potential problem protection process for the transition process
  • The execution of a roll out plan,
  • The implementation of a communication plan, or
  • The development of a follow through/follow up plan.

We might talk about:

  • The pressure for change
  • How to create a shared vision
  • Developing the capacity to change, or
  • The creation of a comprehensive transition plan.

We rarely, however, talk about transition as part of a holistic view.

When I designed my first training program on change, I included a module that explored the key changes that can happen in our lives. This was an interactive exercise that helped participants focus on the universality of change often starting with a focus on personal experiences. Learning to drive, leaving home, the first job, a marriage, the birth of a child, a divorce, a death , an illness or accident – these changes were key moments in the lives of program participants that shaped their individual perspectives.

Not everyone served in the armed forces, experienced a life threatening illness or had loved through a devastating act of nature. Everyone, however, has experienced the changes that come from growing older. As noted author Gail Sheehey observes in her books Passages and More Passages, there are some things we experience, simply because we have entered a new decade.

People often report a learned resiliency when they have experienced a devastating turn of events. It’s not unusual to undergo a major shift in thought or a new awareness. Although the experiences are highly personal, they are also universal.Many of my Clients however, preferred that I focus on the strategic and organizational aspects of change and steer clear of the stuff that seemed a little ‘touchy-feely.’ The portion of the training program that dealt with the personal aspects of transition fell by the wayside.

I see a need to bring that aspect of the training program back and I’m finding that the results confirm my original idea: the personal perspective toward change is exactly what is needed to become more effective and efficient when undergoing organizational change.

Today, I have a new clarity about change and the transition process. The focus for all of us -- Executive leaders, Mid-Level managers, First-Line supervisors and their employees -- when it comes to developing skill and ‘stress hardiness’ when experiencing change is all about finding footing anew and locating our place. If we can spend a bit less time resisting change and spend more time exploring what might be possible, there could be less struggle. Just like Heraclitus, we might just learn to see transition like water in the stream - always different water, yet still part of the stream.

Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management training and development consulting practice that specializes in developing human resources in the areas of leadership and management training, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 20 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at

Recent Deals

Interested in advertising your deals? Contact Edwin Warfield.