May 2017

Beware False Dichotomies: Playing the Trumpet to Avoid the Choir

Man playing a trumpet

Artwork from a hotel I stayed in. Really.

It may surprise some readers to know that, although I am from the UK, I spent part of my life growing up in the USA.  I have fond memories of Rochester, Minnesota which was the place where I learned what “winter” really means (the British view of what constitutes ‘snowfall’ is very different to a Minnesotan’s).  I enjoyed learning about the cultural differences, and learned a lot about how quirky British people really are.  Being outside of my own national culture made me realise how over-politeness and an obsession with ‘fair play’ and queuing really does typify the British psyche.


It was a fantastic opportunity, and I enjoyed studying at a US school.  The curriculum was different and when I moved up to the next grade at an age of ten or eleven years, there was an increased focus on learning music.  I remember, vividly, speaking to one of my trusted classmates who told me:


“This year you have to choose an instrument, and get good at it.  If you don’t choose an instrument, you have to join the choir”.


Shock! Panic!

A Common Response: “Choosing the Best of a Bad Lot”

Empathy and the Fear of Change

Businessman with umbrella standing under the rain.

Image Credit: © Masksim meljov – #14324270

As practitioners of business analysis, we help facilitate valuable change in organisations.  We help our organisations strive towards their organisational objectives, and in doing so we help to define, instil and reinforce change. Yet, whilst we may be progressing objectives that seem exciting and empowering to us, we might find that some stakeholders resist the change. We might even sense that some people fear change altogether.


When talking about resistance and fear of change, I am always reminded of a situation I observed over a decade ago, which is as relevant now as it was then. A contact centre was rationalising its processes and office space, and started to standardise workers’ desk space. It was seemingly positive and non-contentious—people would get new equipment—yet one seemingly insurmountable issue emerged. Yet it seemed so minor


The Problem with the Post Tray