Change Is Hard

Photo by Bluehouse Skis on Unsplash

Catholics love change. Ha! In opposite land maybe. We love Tradition, it’s literally one of the pillars that we’re built upon: Scripture and Tradition. Even though we don’t love change, we are capable of it. We’re all capable of change, but did you know that we have different styles of change?

While I think this can be pretty applicable to the Church, it’s something I’ve been thinking about recently with all of the changes happening in our world. So a few notes about change, all gleaned from the research around Change Style (an Assessment and Workshop I administer and teach). It proposes that there are three styles of change: Conservers, Pragmatists, and Originators.

I first learned about the different styles of change when I was certified to administer the assessment and lead workshops about a year ago. The assessment was created after vigorous research by Discovery Learning Intl and administered by MHS Assessments. The workshop dives deep into how each style experiences change, collaborates with others, works creatively, and much more. Below is a quick primer I use to think about each style. You might recognize yourself in one of the scenarios.

Each style has a different way of approaching change. Here’s how each style of change would approach a home renovation.

Conservers would look at the house’s foundation and rooms, assessing the structure before deciding which room to tackle first. Maybe the kitchen with its outdated appliances and stained counter tops would be the priority. They would probably live with the rest of the issues until that room was complete. Take a rest, then determine if they needed to tackle something else. At the end you’ll see most of the original structure of the house with a few new appliances, wall colors, some light fixtures, and furniture.

Pragmatists might gut the entire inside of the house, keeping the good parts, but removing drywall, counter tops, ceilings, lighting, and more to get to the interior issues. Working well within the structure, but seeking something new that works better. They might “open up that wall between the kitchen and the living room” but they won’t be taking down every wall. You’ll see the basics of the original house when the renovation is complete, but it’ll feel more new house than old house.

Originators go in for the full demo. They knock the whole thing down and start over with something better, greater, and more amazing. No need to be confined by the previous layout from the past, this house will be all new. There might be a few things that were saved like that great shiplap from the upstairs bedroom that’s been repurposed for the newly created kitchen. The final product will feel nothing like the old house; it might only have the same address!

Why do I write about this today? Because your parish is made up of different profiles of change, and we are in the midst of a lot of change. The general population can be charted on a bell curve; however, I would propose that many of the people who would identify themselves as “Strong Faithful Catholics” lean more to the Conserver side of the curve. This was confirmed for me when I did the assessment for over 70 priests a few weeks ago. More than 50% of the group were Conservers.

So what does this mean? You can’t make any changes to anything at your parish? No, not at all. All styles of change are capable of change, they just need different things. Conservers need more communication and details than Originators. So strong communication is important when there’s a change. Pragmatists will help bring Conservers along and slow Originators down, so use them to keep harmony and help explain change. Talk about the outcome you’re looking for when making a change. Both Conservers and Pragmatists like to see the road map; Conservers need more stops outlined for them.

If you want to dive deeper into your Change Style, let me know. If you want to talk more about how to Navigate a Change that needs to happen in your parish or diocese, let’s chat before you implement. If you understand the emotions and thoughts of the people who will be experiencing the change before you make a change, you’ll be able to make a change more effectively and smoothly than you’ve ever thought possible.

Change Style Indicator® ©1995, 2015 Discovery Learning International. All rights reserved.

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