A Change in Change Journey


As a pre-teen I took classes in Tae Kwon Do. I am older now but still remember the endless drills. We would stand in lines in the Dojo and throw the same punch over and over again. The master of the Dojo and his assistants would walk around and adjust your posture and form. Over time you would form muscle memory and execute the same time every time. Then came the board. To be fair it was pine not oak, but you were asked to break it. It’s amazing what a barrier can do to your mindset. I punched the board once or twice and hurt my knuckles. Then came the advice. Imagine you are already through the board so you are really just punching air. Yes, I punched through the board. Glory!

Mindset can mean the difference

Classic Curve

I am curious why the change curve model that most organizations use is so embedded with the change we go through in times of tragedy. Yes, of course I’ve gone through these stages in times of trouble. We all do.Sensemaking Change Curve.001However, business change is about achievement, meeting a new goal, striving for better. Unless it means you are going to lose your job, which happens unfortunately, it should be glorious not lackluster. Terms like denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance does not break boards.

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” — Johhny Cash


The change curve could dip as change does often cause a dip in performance before we get used to the new way of working. The sensemaking curve on change, however, looks at how to bridge that dip. The language itself becomes more realistic and doesn’t discount the fact that change has its challenges, but puts it in a different light.
Sensemaking Change Curve.002

  • Situation that needs to be dealt with. Something needs to be different and the model recognizes barrier, challenges constraints, memory and experience
  • Gaps of understanding in what the change means and with it confusion, worries and questions.
  • Outcomes may be different than expected but the journey will have faced helping hands, hindrances, facilitations, hurts
  • Bridges can be built to close the gaps through ideas, addressing feelings and emotions, using stories, crafting attitudes and trusting intuitions enough to investigate them.

Engagement, co-creation and ownership are key to increasing the odds of change success, but the wrapper on the candy needs to be positive context. Shift the way you view the challenge, prepare appropriately and imagine being already through the board.

“He that outlives this day, and comes safe home, / Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named, / And rouse him at the name of Crispian” — Henry V via Shakespeare

Contact: Changing Change HQ