My 4 Year Old on Change Management


About a year ago, my company held our monthly Thought Meeting in my basement. In preparation, I enrolled my husband Eric to help me move the couches around to set up the room for the group discussion. My 4-year-old Gus watched this activity and grew quite agitated. Eric said, “C’mon, Gus, sometimes change is good.” And then, from the mouth of a 4-year old… the unvarnished truth:

“NO!” he stated, with a raised voice. “Sometimes change is bad…. and sometimes change is VERY bad.”

We had a good laugh about this, especially since the topic of our Thought Meeting was “Change Management,” led by my partner Erika. Gus’s quote is now our change management tag line.

These days, when I wander down to the basement, I find myself in the midst of a bunch of change. Boxes upside down, fancy blankets draped over them, pillows piled in to a tower. The same kid who couldn’t deal with a 90-degree rotation of a couch one year earlier has completely transformed my basement into his fantasy land.

This reminds me that change always seems like a great idea to me — when it is my idea.

I try to remind myself of this on every project. If people feel like change is being done to them (whether it is a new system they have to use, or a new step they have to take in a process, or a new role in a reorganization) their instinct may be the same as my 4-year old’s. But if they are involved in creating or refining the change, they are much more likely to be open to that change.