While reading The Pragmatic Programmer,by authors Andrew Hunt and Dave Thomas, I found myself thinking more and more about the folk story Stone Soup (in chapter 1 of the book) and how the tip of Being a Catalyst for Change is such an important concept in this day in age; where people, organizations, even industries are forced to adapt to change faster than ever.
In the story, Stone Soup, a couple of soldiers enter a town, where a community of people living in silos horde their resources from one another, and begin making stone soup. The stone soup, who’s only ingredients are water and stones, sparked the curiosity of the town’s people. It led the town’s people to ask the question How does the soup taste? The soldiers kindly respond by saying the soup was good, but it could be better if we had some sort of vegetable (each time being something different). One by one the town’s people ran and got food for the soldiers. Eventually, after all of the town’s people had contributed to the soup, the soliders had a hearty soup with a blend of ingredients, which all of the town’s people consumed.
The story of Stone Soup is used by the authors to illustrate their concept of Being a Catalyst for Change. The soldiers were the catalyst. They presented each person with an opportunity to improve the soup. In the end the town’s people learned that they are better off working together than they are individually, thus changing the town’s culture and sense of community.
I enjoyed the folk story because it illustrates how being a catalyst for change can eventually help motivate others to change. However, before we all run to be a soldier or catalyst of change, remember that change doesn’t happen quickly. That’s the allure and trick of change it is something that always seems to be easily achievable but rarely is. The very idea of change, especially if desperately needed, tends to bring on a sense of euphoria. Oh it’s going to be great once we change! However, it’s that very sense of euphoria that blinds us from it’s difficulties.
Change takes time, patience, and teamwork. When proposing change I like to ask myself the following questions:
What am I really trying to change and why? Speak to your peers to figure out what the real problem is.
How will this change affect our day to day operations? Ask around; early feedback, first reactions, are very helpful pieces of information.
How can I compliment what we are currently doing to motivate others to contribute to the change?
What type of resistance, hesitation, can I expect when proposing this change?
I also like to remind myself of the following:
Forward thinking is a requirement not an option.
Seeking to compliment before introducing change always helps in reducing resistance.
Small successes help build larger ones.
Let’s all be catalysts for change!