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LeanOrganisational cultureSystems Leadership

Moving on Up

1 October 2023

Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE Taylor Swift. My love for her has kind of grown though. I didn’t used to be as obsessed as I am now. The first album I had of hers was her second album ‘Fearless’ in 2008. I bought it because Lily Allen told me it was amazing, maybe on Myspace? Anyway, it was, I loved it, but ‘Speak Now’ and ‘Red’ kind of passed me by. I picked up on ‘1989’ when cool people picked up on it … then with every subsequent album, my interest just grew, to the point where ‘Folklore’ floored me, ‘Evermore’ crushed me and ‘Midnights’ just killed me stone dead.

If I was to chart my Taylor Swift love as her albums were released, there would be an initial peak of interest, before vanishing down into a valley of nothingness, to resurrect itself from the floor and rise, RISE, soaring upwards into the sky – a graph which somewhat resembles the ‘Kübler-Ross Change Curve’ perhaps?

In 1969, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross wrote about the “5 Stages of Death” also known as the “5 Stages of Grief®”, “5 Stages of Loss®”, or just “The 5 Stages.” She identified these stages as defence mechanisms or coping mechanisms to change, loss, and/or shock. The stages were not meant to described as linear, nor in a step by step manner. However, for the sake of written description, they have been laid out in the now famous DABDA (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance) manner as it is a common path taken. Since the publication of “On Death & Dying” (1969), the stages have been adapted into the “Kübler-Ross Change Curve™” of which we offer several illustrations on this web page”.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation.

I wouldn’t say that coming to adore Taylor Swift’s music required any kind triumph over adversity as going through grief does however. She’s just too talented and her music too powerful for Swift appreciation to be anything like a pain that needs to be conquered.

Lean change or any kind of organisational transformation often is though, and that’s where clinging onto the rollercoaster ride of the Kübler Ross change curve can help. The theory is, that if you are prepared for the inevitable backlash that you will encounter on your change journey, the valley of despair, you are more likely to ‘hang on in there’.  You’re conscious that if you grin and bear it, tough it through the dark times, eventually, everyone will make it out of the other side and climb upwards to a new dawn.

I had thought that my flexible learning project had been going well, we had made progress and I was really enjoying it, but then I felt a feeling that I had felt before when leading a different University change project 15 years ago … I felt low and my enthusiasm for it suddenly ebbed away.

When I had felt this feeling before on a change programme, more than just my enthusiasm ebbed away, my mind and body did. I just gave up on it. On reflection, it was really interesting to me that the change curve isn’t just something that a facilitator or leader ‘puts teams through’ … the change agent is in the rollercoaster car with everyone too.   If you care, your energy is completely entwined with the energy of the project team. If you give up, you can guarantee your project team will too.

This experience was a valuable lesson for me and one I’ve really tried to share with change teams when I’m teaching them how to deliver lean improvement within their respective organisations.  “Do not underestimate the power you have as a leader of change, how important your emotions and feelings are, how they actively contribute to the momentum of progress”.

I’m sure there are some excellent change agents out there who conduct their role clinically and efficiently, not letting their thoughts and feelings determine the momentum of what’s happening and what everyone’s achieving, but I’m not one of them (as I’ve discussed previously).

I’m in a different place in my career than I was 15 years ago, I know a lot more about lean and systems thinking, and well yeah, life, so it’s not so easy for me to give up. I really believe in what this project is trying to achieve, I really believe how possible it can be, how great it could be, so this is where I need to turn to the “Kübes” to give me the strength to keep going.

So yeah.. I had a word with myself, picked myself up.. and started up again… ready to trek out of ‘frustration’ and ‘depression’ and move right on in there towards ‘experimentation’ hill.

Taylor has helped, of course she has, she always does, and more than just being able to intensively listen to My Favourite Taylor Songs playlist *kerching*. She has picked herself up too and provided me with the joy and excitement of potential new love! After the pain of her breakup with Joe Alwyn, where songs such as ‘Peace’, ‘Tolerate It’ and ‘You’re Losing Me’ allude to the fact that he didn’t really appreciate just quite how ‘Bejewelled’ she was and is (we will never forgive him), she now seems to be stepping out with the all American Football dream Travis Kelce, “tight end” (whatever that is) for the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL.  He talks about her in public! He is proud to be seen with her! He looks at her like this!!!!

Travis Kelce looking at Taylor Swift (we think)

I have lapped up every inch of Traylor / Tayvis (we haven’t decided yet what we are going with) potential love and it’s perked me up no end.

Me enjoying Traylor love

You want the rise, you want the happy ending, so you’ve just got to pick yourself up and just keep going.

Yes, I am a complete sap 😊