Change or not

A review of posts on this blog revealed that I have dealt with change before. In this post I aim to go deeper. This post is opinion only and not advice to any person. [See disclaimer at the end]

Previous relevant posts (not a complete list):

  1. Emotion – the main driver.
  2. Getting ahead.
  3. What changes minds?
  4. 35 years a slave.
  5. People deserve what they don’t get

So I’ve been thinking about the above and other posts where change was a focus or where lack of change was important. I don’t intend to summarise and repeat all that. So, I’m not digging into motivational v demotivational factors.

What is change?

But first I had to come up with some sort of description for what change is. How do we know if something has changed? It is important for change to be observable. That means there has to be an observer. Next there has to be a measure of change. If a glass on my desk moves from point A to B, I can see it and I can measure how much it has moved. It is as simple as that i.e. some characteristic of position or dimension must be different. The difference must be sensed by someone.

Change in educational achievement can be measured by time spent in education and certificates gained. If one qualifies for a driver’s licence, that’s change. If one learns to cook a certain dish, the product is observable and others may give positive feedback for a nice meal. Skill achieved in playing a violin or piano is observable from the perspective of people who listen to what is played on those instruments. A company’s balance sheet changes from year to year and is measurable.

All change is not easily measurable

So far I’ve dealt with change that is easy to discern. But take thinking, organisational skills, job skills and personal development. Those are more more difficult to see or measure? How does one measure the improvement in those areas? Some may say it’s easy from a performance point of view. That is an outcome measure. But what about when there is no audit of individual or team performance – can the individual be changing for the better (or worse)? The performance perspective is always lagging.

What about change in attitudes? I think that is hard to measure. Not everybody can find an expert psychologist to check their attitudes at intervals, to see if they’re changing. Personal growth and maturity are difficult to self-assess, because there may be no objective way to measure this.

The mindmap (clickable) is a reflective exercise that is not perfect and not intended as a tutorial or advice.

The main drivers are at the top. Sub-drivers branch from those. As it is a mindmap, it cannot possibly include numerous fine branches. Like, I’ve not listed every positive and negative emotion.

Stagnation

Stagnation is seen by people as lack of progress. I think it’s not that simple. I see stagnation as lack of change over a long period. Within a long period a person may change for the better, then fluctuate into and out of bad habits or performance. So, they could be making small changes for the better but overall other changes bring them back to where they were previously. Okay – by way of example, someone trying to beat a bad habit with alcohol, may go dry for a few days or a few weeks. That’s great. They pat themselves on the back and receive positive comments for progress. Then they go on a few benders and fall back into their same pattern. This means that overall there was no enduring change in one direction.

So for change to be meaningful and valuable it must be lasting, else there is a circuit leading to stagnation.

Entrapment

This is similar to stagnation but a bit different. It is where an individual is invested in, makes significant changes in performance of a service but then much later on the service falls apart. Staying with a run down service, means that skills acquired are not used and shrivel up. In other words the worker has made a pretty big circuit. This may be fine if the worker is looking forward to retirement in a year or two. However, it is a bad thing if the worker is not near to retirement and would otherwise be on a steep upward curve of growth. The consequences are more serious for a younger employee because it means loss of long term fulfilment and earnings potential.

Individuals find themselves entrapped as well. They know something needs to change, they may make efforts to change but they meet walls or ‘treacle’ around them – these are not physical obstacles as such. Drug and alcohol addicts often experience this sort of thing. Often times return to a familiar environment or meeting with ‘familiar faces’ subtly steers them back onto the path they want to avoid. Nested within substance dependence is the often unseen ‘social addiction’. By the latter I mean a dependence or habituation to a certain kind of company. So – it’s no surprise that substance addicts fall back into the ‘trap’.

No moral sense

What also emerged is that none of the drivers and sub-drivers of change had any intrinsic moral value or effect.  This means that any of the drivers can be used for nefarious purposes. It all depends on how they are used. For example, a person can be showered with kindness and food but the purpose is grooming them for some sordid sexual exploitation. Or look at people who become parts of cults and terrorist gangs – they are fed and educated but in a specific way for some higher ‘purpose’ which is not really their own. Of course, at some stage a person who is groomed may come to wholly accept a role based on rewards, happiness, or other perceived benefits. They would then become self-driven. That is exactly the point of the whole ‘investment’ i.e. to change an individual permanently in their mindset.

Some think it’s fine if one is changed into a workaholic – at least they’re doing something productive for ‘the country’. These types of people are more admired than hated. They are seen to be sacrificing themselves for a nation – admirably patriotic. Let’s just keep in mind that a ‘suicide-bomber’ also sacrifices themselves for a greater purpose, which their groomers would see as admirably patriotic (to their cause). Some would say, “It’s not the same thing!” It’s blindingly obvious that it isn’t. However, I’m not into a debate about differences between workaholics and jihadists! I’m only showing how the same forces can be used for good or evil.

Closing summary

  1. Change in employment and personal development situations may not be easy to measure.
  2. Workers ought to be vigilant to for the risks of stagnation and entrapment, depending on how close they are to retirement.
  3. Entrapment is not often analysed down into sub-dependencies.
  4. As drivers of change can be used for good or bad things, it is wise to be aware of the purposes for which development are used.

Disclaimer & Guidance

The reading of posts on this blog is subject to the Terms & Conditions. Nothing in  this post is advice. No guarantees are supplied or implied. No liabilities for loss or suffering are accepted. Unpalatable truths and personal experiences may be told. Nothing posted on this blog is directed at any identified person. On occasions individuals are quoted anonymously. That does not mean that they have been identified to the world. Should any person or organisation reading this blog find something that makes them feel or know that they  are being referred to – any such perceived identification does not mean ‘identified to the world’. ‘Stupid‘ is an impish figment of my imagination who occasionally is allowed to pop up – and does not represent any known individual, individuals or groups. The treatment of  ‘Stupid‘ is not representative of the way people are treated in real life. Adverse inferences made are dismissed in advance.  

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