Understanding Change and Perspective

Change is an inevitable part of life

We encounter change in various forms, from personal transitions to professional transformations. Nicole Stafford and Linda Manaena of LeaderLab explore the intricacies of how our perspective is formed, and how understanding this process can greatly benefit change managers and anyone navigating the waters of change management. 

The Map of Perspective 

To comprehend how perspective works, imagine it as a map of the world. This map is your unique psychological construct, shaped by your values, beliefs, experiences, and perceptions. Just like fingerprints, no two maps are the same. Carl Jung’s insight that “we don’t see the world the way it is; we see it the way we are” reinforces this idea. We perceive our own representations of reality rather than reality itself. 

Alfred Korzybski’s Distinction 

Alfred Korzybski introduced the concept of a distinction between the maps we create in our minds and the territory, which is the actual reality. This concept is echoed in quantum physics, which suggests that we only ever experience our subjective version of reality. Think of a city map on your GPS – it’s a representation, not the real city. Each of us carries our own unique map of the world. 

Filtering and Distorting 

As we encounter the world, our senses collect an overwhelming two million bits of information every moment. To make sense of this flood of data, our brains engage in a three-step process: distort, delete, and generalise. 

  • Distort: We alter information to align with our preferences and comfort, changing the meaning to suit ourselves
  • Delete: We eliminate information that seems irrelevant or unimportant to us
  • Generalise: We group similar information together, creating shortcuts for our brains

These processes significantly reduce the two million bits of information into just 164 bits. 

Internal Representation and Behaviour

From these 164 bits, we create an internal representation of an event, which significantly shapes our state and physiology. This internal representation influences our emotions, feelings, and reactions. Subsequently, our behaviour is driven by this representation. This is where many people mistakenly attribute their behaviour to external events, when in reality, it’s their internal representation that drives it. 

Implications for Change Management 

Understanding this process has profound implications for change management. Participants in the group discussion shared several key takeaways: 

  1.  Effective Communication

    Communicate change clearly, making information accessible and interesting. Recognise that people have different preferences for receiving information. 

  2. Empathy

    Be empathetic to people’s concerns and past experiences with change. Create a safe space for them to ask questions and voice their worries. 

  3. Patience and Adaptability

    Understand that change doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient and willing to adapt to meet individuals’ needs. 

  4. Learning from Past Experiences

    Be aware of how people’s past experiences with change may influence their reactions. Address these concerns proactively. 

Change management is not just about implementing new processes; it’s about understanding and navigating the complex world of human perspectives. By acknowledging the unique maps of the world that individuals carry, change managers can facilitate smoother transitions and drive successful change initiatives. 

Watch the full video ‘It’s all about perspective’- go to the Change Management Institute  https://bit.ly/all-about-perspective  You will meet the webinar host and Tasmania Chapter Lead Jane Parnell, and guest speakers and Leadership Specialists Linda Manaena and Nicole Stafford.  You will also learn more about the power of perspective in the workplace, and navigating change by embracing chaos and collaboration. 

If you are not yet a member of the Change Management Institute, click here to learn more about the many benefits of membership, and get started on building your Capability, Credibility and Connections. 




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Emily Rich

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