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Enjoy History to Change the Future

Enjoy History to Change the Future

Oct 2018

As a leader of change initiatives, I have a motto: ‘Enjoy History’. My client Kim looked up inquisitively from his single origin piccolo and asked, ‘what do you mean?’

We had just been discussing resistance to organisational change and sharing some of our recent experiences and learnings. I’m sure many of the experiences we discussed could have been superimposed into other organisations. The challenges and frustrations are common. The key to unlocking many of these frustrations is easy: Enjoy History.

Before you can begin to change the future, you must spend time enjoying the history of the organisation, and not just the ‘official history’ as published by the marketing department. Enjoy the spoken history shared by those who have spent their years working within the organisation. Their retelling of past events is usually told with rich emotion, interwoven with personal opinion and thoughts. Their stories are a change leaders gold mine.

Valuing and honouring the past builds trust

Taking time to seek out, ask and enjoy the spoken history from the old timers is invaluable for bringing change. As you listen to the stories, the old timer begins to feel appreciated and valued. When people feel valued, they begin to trust. Trust allows you to lead them on an exploration of new possibilities.

History also allows us to find ways to honour the past. Many of us do not like to think that everything we have worked for is about to be completely swept aside and discarded. When listening to stories we can find ways to honour past participants. This may be in the form of a pat on the back or a word of thanks for their contribution. This again builds trust and helps participants to move forward, feeling they are honoured.

History shows you what is valued

What the old timer is telling you when sharing organisational stories is what they value. However, a word of caution. Sometimes history can become legend or folklore, that doesn’t necessarily reflect the actual facts of the historical events. Don’t worry. Use it to define what you are going to celebrate. People celebrate what they value. We celebrate what we value.

Clues to change elements that will work now

History also provides valuable clues for current day change initiatives. No organisation that still exists has remained the same since day one. Organisations are always changing. Listening to their history can give you clues to the non-tangible elements of past change initiatives. These elements may include the attitudes, qualities and behaviours that made past changes successful. The amazing thing is that these elements are often needed for current organisational change. By enjoying history, you can call out those attitudes, qualities and behaviours and request they are displayed again.

At Joseph Consulting we enjoy history. If you need help discovering your organisational history or implementing change, please call Joseph Consulting to discuss how we can help.


Jason Gallagher

Joseph Consulting


If you would like to read another blog related to this topic, we suggest the following;

Change Management - Ned Kelly's Way

The ancient art of storytelling transforming business today

Empowering Lemonade Makers


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