The Form of Every Virtue


'But how are we supposed to do that here?' My colleague asked, voicing his frustration with our current client situation. We've been in regression for the past few weeks. We are preparing for the first big-bang release of the software the client is working on. And at this time we were discussing how to enact change in such an environment. As is usually the case, it's hard to build for the future when everyone around you is in fire-fighting mode.

It took me a moment to find a good answer for his question. It can be truly difficult to encourage others to change during such a time, especially when you are new to the team. Nonetheless, the best way to lead is by example. That whole 'Be the change you want to see' idea. If you don't have something to show for your idea, there is little if any reason for someone to follow it.

Try to provide a demonstration that it works first. People are far more willing to believe results over theories. Good news, you've ready access at all times to someone whose willing to listen to you. And they are ready to try out your experiments; it's You. Lead Yourself. Then when you have something that can prove the merits of your plan you can share it with others. If it's a plan that requires more people to try out, then what you need is to design the experiment. Share that filled out plan, including how you will know if it was a success or not!

But all of this falls short. It is missing a key ingredient, which my colleague, in essence, was pointing to. How do you do all these things, when the organization around you seems to be spinning out of control? And this part of the answer is what took me so long to figure out. It boils down to a choice. Are you going to do as the world around you is doing? Or do you have the courage to do something different? Do you have the courage to invest the extra time it may take? Do you have the courage to explain why in your best judgement you did not do as everyone else has done?

The question boils down to courage. Courage is the form of every virtue at the testing point. If you don't have the courage to decide to do something different, then you cannot enact the change you seek to build. If you want something you've never had, you will have to do something you've never done. Anything else is repeating an action expecting a different result, or insanity.

So if you see the need for change, but don't know where to start: Start with one. Start with you. Take a breathe, look around, make the call. You are in charge of Corporation You. What will your policy be? Is your change worth your time to do? Then take a moment to make a plan. Show how you will know that your change is having the impact you desire. And then, take the plunge.