• Pam Prior

Breaking The Bone To Reset It



Change in an organization: Scary – exciting random – organized supported – resisted eye-opening – blinding


Change in an organization is all of these things. To top it off, change usually comes because, either something is broken, or something needs to prepare for growth. And whether resetting a broken bone or going through growing pains – IT HURTS!


Process improvement efforts, as a driver of change, can be similarly painful in the instant of implementation:

  1. It’s often hard for everyone involved to see the vision held by the change agent(s)

  2. There is a learning curve – sometimes a learning cliff

  3. Things aren’t going to work perfectly and people will make mistakes – making it easy to revert to “I told you this wouldn’t work!”

  4. People still have their “day jobs” on top of change efforts

  5. Sometimes only parts of the organization move at a time

  6. There are going pockets of resistance and obstacles

All of these things (and others) combine as obstacles to effecting real change – BIG, STEP CHANGE. To those at the center of the storm, it can, indeed, feel just like breaking a bone in order to reset it.


And, just like allowing a bone to be reset, it takes time, energy, intellect, cooperation, endurance, and faith – characteristics that have often lain dormant for some time in organizations that have grown comfortable in their existing skin or can’t imagine the ship can turn.


So why go through it? Why participate if it’s going to hurt, and you know that going in?

I know you’ve arrived at the answer: because you know going in that when the painful part is over – the bone is stronger! At the outset, you have to trust and believe that you will play ball again, you will conduct an orchestra again, you will carry your babies again, and you will have a better arm (or leg) for achieving your goals in life.


Process change in an organization is no different. What is needed is the same:

  1. Time set aside to figure out and make the needed changes

  2. Energy to go through a period of disruption and harder work for a purpose

  3. Intellect to understand and participate in building the future

  4. Cooperation with the whole team to carry the load when each other needs help

  5. Endurance for the inevitable exhaustion that the change effort takes

  6. Faith – last, but certainly not least – faith that it is worth the effort

And all of that relies on leadership: leadership in the organizational hierarchy, but even more importantly, leadership by each and every participant.


When each person on the team locks onto the same vision when each person acknowledges his or her fears or concerns, and when each person takes the steps forward into change despite knowing it’s going to hurt; the power to make a difference is unleashed and can’t be caged again.


It brings out, not only the best that people believe they have in themselves, but it brings out strengths they never dreamed they possessed. Each person grows with the change. And it is magnificent!


When a bone breaks, part of the healing is new growth: growth that never would have come correctly without the painful resetting. I try to remember that when driving change – it can hurt, and it is scary. So, there will be fear, but to quote Nelson Mandela:


“Bravery is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man … is he who conquers that fear.”


Participating in this type of change has been the most rewarding part of my career: the scariest, painful, and WONDERFUL part of my career. So this is just a “thank you” to the ones who taught me this great lesson through experience – you know who you are. And I only hope that I do your investment in me justice by passing it on.



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