Business, Coaching, Connection, Leadership, Learning, Organisational Change, Organisations, Reflecting

It Should Be Different….

Oh Should.

How you haunt my change practice & my coaching conversations.

You hold a tempting promise of possibilities, marred by a vague whiff of judgement:

I should

We should

It should be…


Yup. Quite possibly. But it isn’t. Not right now.

So can we work with that? With what is real and present?

Can we look at the world as you currently experience it?

Can we look at this mythical “culture” that “should” change and spend time here, now, picking through what is, before lurching off to what should be?

As I watch my coaching client grapple with a weight of self-judgements and frustrations about the culture of bureaucracy they operate in, I hear them utter “should” time and time again. Like a warning bell. When I ask them where they are without the “should”, it becomes a tougher conversation. Less dreamy. It means living with the mundane outcomes of everyday choices. It means personal responsibility. It’s potentially harder work.


As I listen to the Culture Change proposition from the Senior Exec, I hear the disconnect between the future-state being sought and the staff they seek to recruit today. Who is paying attention to today, I wonder?

And I ask this gently… later, when there is less heat in the conversation & the firey promise of brighter horizons seems a lot more gnarly to get to.


I come back, as I so often do, to the Paradoxical Theory of Change:

“Change occurs when one becomes what he is, not when he tries to become what he is not. Change does not take place through a coercive attempt by the individual or by another person to change him, but it does take place if one takes the time and effort to be what he is – to be fully invested in his current position”

(Beisser, 1970)


Be here now, practitioners and decision makers.

Dare to dream and plan and scheme of changing cultures and better working worlds– of course do this and often.

Just kind of dial down the Should a little

If you want change? Be clear about the material you are working with now – know your environment, your culture, your territory.

Be optimistic, but under no illusion.

Be who you are, better and make a difference that way.

You know you should

2 thoughts on “It Should Be Different….”

  1. I am endlessly fascinated by the conundrum of change. Systems theory posits tha a system does not change in any of its defining relations unless it must. And, then it must somehow choose which relations have to change in order to hold others constant. Beside that thought is one that change is inevitable when systems learn and encounter change in their environment, whether they intend to do so or not (enter: conscious purpose). Then there is the position of the theorists of Brief Strategic Therapy that insight does not produce change in behaviour, but the other way around, leading to often paradoxical prescriptions. So, such words as “should, ought, must,” and their antonyms express ideas of pre-determined outcomes based on past understandings. The injunction to “Be Here Now” (the title also of a book by Ram Dass) is important in part because real change, deep change does not have a known outcome or goal – well sometimes it does in top down (authoritarian) systems, (Robert J. Lifton – “Thought Reform And The Psychology Of Totalism”) where it is not the system that is to change, but some member or part of it. – but the sort of change sought here is open ended, which does also require a full stop at the now to stop the “shoulds” and focus on the “is”.. There needs time taken to, in Lao Tsu’s phrase, wait for the mud to settle. —- I love it when bloggers get me thinking – thanks

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