Michael in Culture 10 minutes

All or Nothing Changes

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has taught me the danger in all or nothing thinking. If I enjoy my job, perhaps it isn’t a good idea to work 80 hours at it. If I fail at work, then all is not lost. If I want to lose weight, perhaps the best thing to do is stop eating cookies. Maybe if I try to limit my processed food intake to zero I will freak out and eat three boxes of Oreos from the store. All or nothing thinking is the single most formidable thinking error component in my life.

So it’s only natural that I would fight it in change initiatives at work. When I get an idea for a change, I become obsessed. I read everything I can about it. I watch videos. I absorb the technology. Then I come up with a grand vision about how everything can be different. It’s exciting.

But if I sell people on that grand vision, I’ve fallen into a trap by handing the opponents of the change a huge weapon. If what you’re selling is perfection (or “all” in this case), then all it takes is for someone to demonstrate how your tool can’t possibly solve all the problems that we have.

If instead you’re selling that a change will create a measurable impact for some of our major problems and opportunities, of course, the change can be scaled elsewhere. But let’s not focus on that right now. Let’s make something work. Let’s show everyone that this is for real. Let’s avoid nothing. But let’s avoid all, as well.

Now that I don’t have to create the perfect utopia I will brag about to my grandchildren, I can solve real problems. I can be flexible with my solution architecture. I can be more flexible with tools. I can solve real problems and create a platform for even greater change.

Change never happens in the single inspirational speech. It happens every day, little by little, one problem at a time.