Patterns | Gradients | Scale

Today I attended the “How to Create Change Without Breaking Everything” workshop held at Metro, and lead by Metro’s Executive Director, Nate Hill. Hill opened the workshop by introducing three concepts in relation to the concept of “Change Management”: patterns, gradients, and scales. In speaking about patterns, Hill mentioned that if he sees something or hears something within an organization, and then if he sees or hears that same thing again from another individual, then that indicates to him that a pattern might be emerging. This may seem pretty obvious, but recognition of patterns is – in my mind – one of the building blocks of beginning to understand systemic habits, habits that may need to be changed in order for an organization [or project, or culture] to flourish. I can also see how this awareness of the emergence of patterns can be just as valuable in one’s private life, in addition to in a professional realm.

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Photograph by Sarah Ann Adams, La Jolla, CA, 2009

Hill then used the image of a gradient to express the fact that change is slow, that it “seeps and creeps”, from one habit to another, from one color to another. In speaking about gradients, Hill also mentioned that, while it is important to plan, it is also equally important to “look back” and assess, to review what you have done so far. This self-reflection can make the change process lengthier and more complex, but it is a necessity for creating lasting, meaningful, and sustainable change.

The last component Hill spoke about was “scale”. I wasn’t entirely sure what he meant by this, but he explained that, in most every case, there will be those who don’t fit within the what you would like them to be doing for the “change” to take place. Hill mentioned that it is important to take those individuals into account, but ultimately advised to not let it derail you or take your focus off the main goal. In thinking back on this, for me I think the better term would be “perspective” rather than scale: there will always be challenges when trying to make change happen, but it is important to not become too myopic in trying to address them that you lose sight of why you are making the change in the first place.

At the end of the workshop, Hill gave attendees a tour of the Metro facility, and I became even more interested in learning about this organization. I look forward to attending more events and – hopefully – meeting more people in the New York Library and Information Science field through becoming engaged with this community.

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