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  • Paul Clavering

Change: The Mother-in-Law Syndrome

Recently, someone introduced me to the Mother-in-Law Approach. It was a really simple analogy on how they deal with change both inside and outside their working life. Those that have met me, know I love to simplify things - so this was ideal for me.

"Most of us fear change, its natural!"

During a conversation about an upcoming change, she mentioned that she handles all large change in a similar way. She explained that her husband would often only give her a few hours notice that he had invited his mother around for tea.


Panic sets in immediately... The housework hasn't been done, the dishes are still in the dishwasher (dirty!) and there is nothing in to cook. The panic inevitably leads to running around trying to do as many things as possible. When you look at this, its all done without a clear frame of mind just focussing on the next immediate task (or multiple tasks if you're not male!).

"Does panic and being busy always achieve the end goal?"

Actually, she explained, the truth has been lost in the panic. Sitting back and analysing allowed her to understand that a simple run around with a hoover, switching on the dishwasher and searching the fridge/cupboard bore more than just fruit, rather the ingredients to make something suitable. She broke down the issue into smaller tasks to achieve the goal. The panic subsided as the situation didn't look as bad as she first thought.


It's the same in some of the businesses I have been fortunate to work in. This could be in the form of non-alignment to the Target Operation Model (TOM) or even working on projects that wont deliver an agreed corporate objective. Being able to sit back and analyse is a key part of the equation - something I refer to as visualise. Something often missed in organisations and their projects/change initiatives.

"Before starting a detailed business case, Visualise. It's a powerful part of the process!"

So before the panic breaks in and you open the fridge looking for that bit of broccoli hidden behind the milk, just ask yourself, do you understand why you are doing this piece of work and more important do you know why/its impact on the end goal.


If you don't the Mother-in-Law may just turn up and you're not ready!

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