Creating Infectious Ideas

I was watching the Geena Davis show the other night. The son was upset because Geena had moved the cereal bowls from one side of the kitchen to the other. She said it was more efficient. She even took a bowl down and demonstrated how easy it was to pour the cereal into the bowl without moving around the kitchen.

Despondent, the boy takes a seat at the table with his sister. ." She starts saying: "Different! Different! Different!" The father says: "He doesn't like things to change very much. The daughter keeps saying: "Different! Different! Different!" until the boy runs screaming from the room.

This is the proverbial battle among fundamentalists, evolutionaries and revolutionaries. The son doesn't want things to change. Geena wants to make things better, more efficient. And the daughter torments her brother with Difference! Difference! Difference!

You know you're on to something when you see it used in hit sitcoms.

When you have the son's sameness strategy, you may only initiate major changes once every 15-25 years. When you have Geena's progress strategy, you only initiate major changes every 5-7 years. And difference people, like the daughter, initiate major changes every 1-2 years.

As the Geena Davis show suggests, this can be a tremendous source of conflict. My wife has to remodel, redecorate, or repaint some portion of the house every year. I might not do anything but once ever 5-7. Could this be a source of conflict in our marriage?

In businesses, the programmers and systems analysts of the Information Technologies (IT) department like to play with all the NEW and DIFFERENT technology. Their customers want steady IMPROVEMENT in their systems. They want new systems to seamlessly integrate with their existing ones. Could this be a source of conflict among user and IT departments?

So how do you respond when someone moves your cereal bowl? Is it a bummer, way cool, or not nearly enough? How do the people in your family or work team respond when someone moves their cereal bowl?

To soften the impact of change, you might consider using language that is tailor-made for each person in the group: Son: The bowls are STILL in a kitchen cabinet; it's just that they're closer to the cereal. Geena: That's an IMPROVEMENT. Daughter: The bowls are in a NEW place. All three: The bowls are STILL easily accessible in a kitchen cabinet, it's just that their in a NEW place that makes it even EASIER to prepare breakfast in the morning.

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