J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

The Change Frame

The Change Frame

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How do you improve your results?  How do you consistently increase your success?  Have you ever wondered why somebody's *advice* was useless for you at the time?  Maybe, they were giving you ideas to change your thinking when what you really needed was better techniques.  Have you ever spun your wheels and churned all your energy, only to realize later that you needed to think differently about the problem and change your approach?  The first thing to figure out is where you need to change. Here's a simple frame I've been using to help colleagues understand where to change, so they play their best game.

The Change Frame
You

  • Thinking - do you need to change your strategies, thinking, or thought patterns?
  • Feeling - do you need to change how you feel?
  • Doing - do you need more effective techniques or take more action?

Situation

  • Adapt - do you need to change yourself for the situation?
  • Adjust - do you need to change or tailor the situation to set yourself up for success?
  • Avoid - do you need to avoid the situation (if it's not right for you)?

How To Use the Frame
As simple as this frame looks, it's very powerful.  If somebody gives you advice and you feel a tug in your gut that it's not helpful, there's a good chance that it's not the advice itself, but it's at the wrong level.  Telling you how to think about a problem won't help when you really need a technique and action for the problem.  You can use this frame as a vantage point and to analyze your approach to be more effective.

Changing You
The fastest and most effective thing you can change is yourself.  You should also know that changing your thinking, changes your feelings, changes your actions.  If you know this, it's a powerful concept.  If you don't have the energy you need to get results, then you might have to start with changing how you're thinking about it.  If you're stuck in analysis paralysis, then you might just need to start taking action and tuning your results.

Changing the Situation
Some people spend too much time trying to change for the situation that's not right for them.  They ultimately change, but at the expense of their strengths or passion.  Another approach is to get better at figuring out up front where you can play to your strengths. 

While you want to be flexible and adaptable, you also need to be self-aware.  If you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can either avoid situations where you won't be successful or you can set situations up for your success.  If you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can also be more deliberate about how you change for the situation and whether you are giving up your strengths. 

Adapting, Adjusting or Avoiding
For example, if you are used to position authority for getting results, then you'll want to either find those situations where it works or you'll want to avoid them.  If you want to be more effective across a wider range of projects, situations and roles, then you'll want to learn how to influence without authority.  The key to remember is that it's not a question of can you change for the situation -- of course you can.  It's really a question of should you, or is there a way to set the situation up for your success, or is another situation a better fit for you.

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