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Taking Responsibility to Change

Rick JamesRick James

Change only occurs when someone, somewhere takes responsibility for a situation. Kurt Lewin, the father of organizational change theories, pointed out more than fifty years ago that the first stage in change involved “induced anxiety or guilt – a realization that I am in some way responsible.” Instead of externalizing blame onto other people, they realize that they are in some way responsible and that they can do something about it. Perhaps then I should not be so surprised that the Organizational Development (OD) exercise that has had the biggest impact on the organizations I work with is simply when I stop and ask people to answer:

I tend to send people away on their own to prayerfully listen to God about how they have contributed to a situation. In dealing with hurt and frustrations it is important to get people out of a “blamestorming” attitude. It allows God to bring conviction, not people to condemn each other. I have often found that changing people’s physical environment helps in this, suggesting they listen to God while going for a walk or sitting outside. The key is to create a safe space to consider the question in a meaningful way.

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Rick James
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