Celebrating Change

31 August 2018

Change is hard, we know that to be true and we can all think about times when we have been overwhelmed by change. This means there is always a contradiction between knowing that change is hard and working in an industry that is based on the premise that change will happen and inviting people to participate in the process.

We’ve been thinking a lot about this contradiction of late and coupling it with the opportunities we have found to celebrate change. We started by taking a deep breath and asking somebody who lives on one of our projects what it has been like to go through change with us.

‘There came a point of realisation that no matter the level of protestation or objection, the regeneration was going ahead. make:good were instrumental in getting the residents to understand where they can have an influence without feeling hopeless.

You have always been reliable and honest and have done a lot by being who you are, to bridge that gap between residents and the Council.’

Rolanda – Resident of Estate Regeneration Project

So change can be positive, I mean actually it normally works out for the best but I am not immune to the fact that change is hard. Personally I don’t like change that much (anyone who knows me knows the irony that this is my chosen profession) but I suspect that this just means I have more empathy for how hard change is and how hard it can be to go through periods of uncertainty which is probably key to making it through collaboratively in the best way possible for people who live and work around our projects.

I think we end on trying to strike a balance between embracing change and celebrating change. As much as it makes people roll their eyes we have to embrace change because in public space and with buildings no change is not an option. Things will decay; society moves on and we want or need different things from our spaces; the people around will change and therefore this will impact on the space or sense of place. More than just good maintenance to keep up the status quo, I would say that it is the social infrastructure needed and the way we live our lives that changes most and therefore it is these changes we need to adapt to and transform places to accommodate these new demands.

So how do we get to the place where we are embracing and celebrating change?

If we take on board Rolanda’s feedback it is the moments when we:

  1. Really listen and give honest answers, even if they are not the ones people want to here
  2. Be human and show empathy in how hard the situation is
  3. Tell the hard truths clearly and as soon as the information becomes available
  4. Acknowledge people’s input and be clear in what you will do with it
  5. Celebrate where people have had influence and show the changes that have been made following feedback
  6. Collaborate don’t dictate everything, engage people how they want to be engaged

And now over to you because we feel like we are constantly learning about this stuff, shifting our practice and adopting new techniques as we learn more about the complexity or how humans react to change. What are your top tips for moving to a more celebratory sense of change? Or who do you think is doing it really well that we could learn from?