Start with the small things

By Lorentz Forsberg

A friend came to visit me in my office. She is newly employed as an administrator at the parish level of one of our Swedish churches. We talked about our children and things in general for a while. Then she said suddenly:

“It took me a while to figure out what was wrong with my new job. I have just realised that people around me look stuck. They do not expect results. They do not even want to develop and change. We are just supposed to do the things we do and that is it. What should I do? I want to change this!”

Now this is a healthy start, I thought. Someone eager to lift the curtains, get rid of the dust and open the window to change. But as I probed with some questions it became clearer that things were not that easy. The organisation is tired to their bones of top-down driven change-processes. I really started to feel for my friend, as she was now embarking on this wonderfully difficult journey of being an internal change agent. It will be exhausting as well as exciting.

So, what could I say to this? Well, I did not say much, mostly I listened. My only advice in the end was to try to establish new ways of doing things in the areas of work were she had control. To model a different practice, even in small ways, can be an example to the organisation and its management. It will take her time to build trust and grow into her mission. As we parted, we agreed to keep in touch on this. People trying to free organisations from their stuck situations need a lot of support.

This week:
How can you inspire change through the way you do the small things?
What can you do to encourage the internal change agents that you know?

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