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Change Happens When? 10 Conditions

It is tempting to fall into that thought trap that says, "making change happen is difficult if not impossible."

This is not true at all. Change is possible, it can happen. It is only a question of knowing how.

Speaking as someone who tries to learn from success and failure (which stinks and is embarrassing by the way), some thoughts:

1. Approach as a friend not a challenger or G-d forbid a foe. Mentally this must be true and not an act.

2. Focus on severe pain points (and have a very clear vision of what no-pain looks and feels like). Severe pain is a process that hurts like a toothache, that is dreaded, that people truly suffer through.

3. Make the change yourself first. No preaching, no flashy launches, no cheesy or cutesy announcements. Just do it, seriously.

4. Situate yourself within a community of sympathetic people. They may or may not work with you but they should similarly appreciate the issues.

5. Help the people on the fence, whom you want to recruit. Usually they get the logic of the change but are not sure how to implement.

6. Follow the leader. People look to the top for direction. An executive with credibility must, must advocate or at least provide ground cover.

7. Do not be the first. First movers are very exposed. Do your homework and find others who have already beta tested the change and worked through kinks.

8. Use available tools first. Don't rush to import something new and strange. You may already have a workable solution under your nose.

9. Make change interactions pleasant. Most people dread having to learn something new. Present a happy face to it, nice and calm.

10. Package it simply, with the most basic functionality. Most change agents love to tinker and futz endlessly. Regular people shut down when you do this. Think chocolate, vanilla or strawberry.

The end of corruption is followership

I have told this story often.

When I was little we used to drive these long distance trips to see the family.

My dad did the drive all alone. Me and my sister in the backseat. Mom in front on the passenger side.

Sometimes when it was 2 or 3 a.m. I would wake up. I could see my dad's reflection in the windshield mirror. A few times I saw him nodding off.

And I would go, "Wake up, Daddy! Wake up!"

"Oh," he would startle awake and open his eyes. And pretend he had never been sleeping.

Followers must hold leaders to account. More than that we set the agenda. Often we think that the opposite is true, that we are helpless victims of whoever is in charge.

But the reality is quite different.

There was a woman protesting in Brazil. The policeman stood in front of her and sprayed her entire face with pepper spray. I saw the picture on CNN.

The "standing man" protest in Turkey was similarly televised.

In Israel the wife of a cult leader protested the treatment of infants and children, was beaten by a mob and her story made the media.

And in the U.S., many are questioning what exactly the safeguards are against unreasonable search and seizure, even in a heightened awareness of national security concerns.

These are all the actions of followers. These are not anarchists or subversives who want to overthrow the government. They are part and parcel of the system itself, and they are holding their leaders accountable.

The best defense against corruption is not sleeping while your dad drives over a cliff. It is waking up and tapping him on the shoulder.

*As always all opinions my own. And I very much love my dad.

Transparency & Secrecy Can Coexist

King Solomon said, "to everything there is a season" -- an appropriate place and time.

There are times when secrecy, aka privacy is good. During those times, transparency is not.

People need privacy -- solitude. To walk among the trees. To work out their feelings and thoughts.

Couples need privacy.

Families need privacy.

Religious communities need privacy.

Organizations need privacy.

Politicians need privacy.

There is no exception to this rule.

Privacy is not inherently suspicious. But it has become so. It is bad manners for example to refuse to be in a photo.

I was watching a crime show on TV. They were questioning a wide range of possible suspects. 

The policeman said, "Where were you on the night of the crime?" 

The suspect responded, "I was driving around in my car."

"And then what?" asked the policeman.

"I went to the diner," said the suspect.

"Do you have a receipt?"

"No!" and the suspect slammed his hand down on the table. Like, can't I even get a cup of coffee? (But we, the audience, were not supposed to be sure.)

Privacy is a "problem" nowadays. We as a society have ceased to respect it. In the most fundamental ways.

My kid won't go to the mall unless she is going with a friend. 

I am told that NOBODY does this. To be alone is to be weird.

We waaaaaayyyyy overvalue transparency. We know it is ridiculous the lengths to which this craze has gone. But we can't stop ourselves.

Imagine your computer were transparent to hackers - no firewall. Ridiculous right?

But we ask for all secrets, the secrets and the secret processes, that keep us safe to be revealed.

The issue is balance. Yes we need to know certain things. Yes we should hold people accountable to their promises and to the law.

No we do not need to know everything. Nor would we want to.

As George Orwell once said:

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."

* All opinions my own.

Communication: velvet glove or iron fist?

When it comes to judging someone's credibility I look for direct statements.

It is X it is not Y and here's the reason.

Often as we rise to positions of power our language becomes more indirect.

You can't say this - you shouldn't word it so - the press or our partners will take it the wrong way.

My mother used to say, I can stand anything but a liar and I can tell you this is true.

As soon as she hears those lying words her nostrils flare with rage. They do.

You may think you are being tactful but the impression is sometimes the opposite.

Say what you mean and mean what you say, and for goodness sake please keep it simple.