Are You Ready for Change?

Are you resistant to change? Are you an obstacle to change? What kind of questions are those for a knowledge manager? Important questions.

So much of what we do involves change. In fact, we’re constantly urging our internal clients to try new things, adopt new methods, be open to change — provided it’s the change we’re recommending. But are we willing to eat our own dog food?

You can’t be an effective change agent unless you yourself are open to change. To be sure you are open to change, see how you measure against a professional change agent’s 9 Tips for Change Agents:

  1. Be open to data at the start — when you are open to the data, you are no longer trapped by your preconceptions and prejudices.
  2. Network like crazy — the more people you know, the more inputs you have.  This increases the challenges to your mindset, which is a good thing.
  3. Document your own learning — this process of reflecting on what you are doing will accelerate your learning.
  4. Take senior management along — involve management in benchmarking, help them understand when your recommendations are standard or unusual.
  5. No Fear! — to promote change is to invite challenge and resistance.  You can’t do this if you’re worried about job security.
  6. Be a learning person yourself — unless you are learning (the right lessons), you won’t be effective.
  7. Laugh when it hurts — a sense of humor and optimism is critical when asking people to do what they most resist (i.e., change).
  8. Know the business before you try to change anything — Do you have real experience on the front line?  If not, it will be harder to help.
  9. Finish what you start

While all of these are important for knowledge management, item 8 poses a special challenge for law firm knowledge managers who do not have experience as practicing lawyers or paralegals.  Here’s what the author of these 9 Tips has to say about her business:

I don’t think you can do this work if you’re just a theorist. I’ve been a sales rep, I’ve been in a marketing job where I worked with the operations side. So when I go about the work of creating a change strategy, I already have an understanding of the people in our organization and what they do.

if you aren’t either a practicing lawyer or paralegal, how do you address this issue?  How do you gain practical knowledge of the business and stop being a law firm knowledge management theorist?  Is your method effective?

Being open to being wrong, being open to the learning that comes from failure — these are key hallmarks of a person who is ready for change and ready to be change.  What about you?

[h/t to @weknowmore for pointing out this Fast Company article.]

[Photo Credit:  nhussein]

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