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In our book, “Preparing For A World That Doesn’t Exist-Yet” Rick Smyre and I examine how new ways of listening and finding multiple answers is critical for leaders to master.  We call this matrix thinking and if we are to authentically spark transformation in our organizations and communities, we must help people see beyond traditional linear thinking.  There are four stages of transformation.

One of the most effective approaches in creating an environment  where a shift in thinking will occur is to design a system of transformational thinking using two or more of the following techniques:

  • One on one dialog introducing new factors so that people move beyond “one factor thinking”.
  • Play a game that introduces new trends in a way where multiple possibilities may be correct.
  • Tell a story about the shift in thinking that lead you to an “and/both” approach.
  • Have people work with bubble diagrams where there is no one right answer.

In most cases, local leaders especially have deep roots of experience and traditional thinking that is the basis for their success.  In a time of disruption and fast paced change different approaches will be needed.  One of the well-known principles of change is that change usually occurs only when old ways are no longer seen to work or when there is a crisis.  What increases the difficulty of seeing the need for change in a time of transformation is that one cannot predict what will happen, and new methods and tools will be needed to deal with situations and issues never before encountered.

Creating organizations and communities that continue to evolve and adapt successfully will require constant attention and mindfulness by leaders.  There are four stages of transformation (at least) and all the phases require constant analysis, understanding, leadership, risk and the continuous evolution of new capacities.

The Four stages of transformation are:

  1. Resistance to change
  2. The “hmmm” period
  3. A time of “aha!”  and
  4. “Of course, it is”

Seeing the need to change comes during the third, or “aha!” phase.  This is the most important of the four phases because once a person begins to think about and question one’s traditional ideas, she/he will provide a sign in some way that an opening to a new way of thinking is possible.  Matrix or Master Capacity Leaders will continuously look for some sign that a person is ready to see the need for change, and be ready to act in an appropriate way.  It is important to realize that once someone enters the “hmmm” zone you’ve got them, and they will never go back.  Catalyzing people with a “nudge” is ok, yet let people evolve in their own way. It’s also important for people to tussle a bit with themselves since there cannot be deep growth and personal transformation without early resistance and struggle.