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Old 10-28-2009, 10:53 AM   #10
Budd's Avatar
Dojo: Taikyoku Budo & Kiko - NY, PA, MD
Location: Greater Philadelphia Area
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 997
Re: Managing Change in Aikido

As a consultant (in particular Information Technology), I deal with a lot of change management in organizations. On one level, in aikido and martial arts in general, the types of organization can vary from group to group via individual dojo/schools. In addition, many will operate as a top-down hierarchy, with subsurvience to an external org, etc.

Either way, if a dojo is looking to implement change from the traditional hierarchy on down . . the instructor(s) will need to be setting the example of how the change will be applied - and it will need to ultimately be embraced by the stakeholders (executives/instructors/org leaders as well as end users/student body) to be successful.

Some things that I do encounter all the time, though, in orgs that I've worked with . .

"Perception versus Reality"

If the perception is that the change is good - and that is reinforced via words and behavior, it will be more easily embraced and become the new reality that everyone operates under. If the perception anywhere at the top is that the change is unwelcome and should be resisted - that will also carry on down.

"Consistency and Communication"

In order for everyone to be on board with the change (and management issuing a directive and expecting compliance is not the same as the actual implementation of the change, which tends to be more gradual and less immediate), there needs to be an appropriate division of labor. Which leads to necessary communication, even on something as basic as a single overseer and multiple persons following the overseer's interpretation of the change.

If and when tasks do get delegated, there needs to be even more communication between the delegator and the delegatee, to ensure synergy in the implementation strategy and that follow through is in compliance with that strategy.

The follow-through is then behaving in a manner that's consistent with the communication that's been conveyed - a critical but sometimes overlooked piece of the implementation process - which generally means, "Do what you say, say what you do". This may be difficult because reishiki makes it somewhat difficult in a dojo setting to call out someone senior to you if they aren't following this - and that's a hurdle each org is going to have to cross - in many orgs I've seen the answer is to do nothing . . which nearly always negatively impacts the effectiveness of an implementation.

"Appropriate Unit Testing"

A lot of the time, there's a requirement for unit testing to take place with a sample of the overall group, to gauge the potential utility of a change, look for bugs, chances to optimize or improve something. Lots of times, you see something you might do differently, but realize that it might work better in a later release or update to the change (assuming the org doesn't pick a method and follow it in an unaltering state until the end of time - but I've never seen this happen).

Caution about a danger of unit testing, though . .you can spend forever doing it . . and never actually release anything to the main user community. On the flip-side, releasing something too soon, before it's been optimized enough, can result in a lot of user unhappiness and dissatisfaction (insert least favorite software/computer application here, there's plenty of whipping examples).

And that's just off the top of my head regarding change management, generally. Specifically in an aikido setting, there's many additional factors to consider, but I think Ledyard Sensei addressed a goodly number of them.

Taikyoku Mind & Body
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