Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A change story


I’ve been noticing a problem in my office lately. My dog, Pudge, spends a lot of time in the office with me. She has a blanket in the corner where she hangs out and naps or chews her nyla bone. The only problem is that the blanket tends to spread out and cover a large expanse of the hardwood floor right across the entrance into my office. Then I come in and step on it and go flying. Plus when it’s spread out, it’s not very cushy for Pudge.

So I had the bright idea to improve things and make things better for both of us.

I sent away for a fine, cushion-y, and washable dog bed. I measured Pudge, and I measured her other favorite spot (a chair in the living room) to get the right size.

I was sure she’d love it. Why wouldn’t she? The new bed would be much better than the ratty old yarn blanket, much cushier and more comfortable. And her nyla bone wouldn’t get snagged in the yarn and all tangled when she pawed the blanket around.

When the new dog bed arrived, Pudge was curious about the box. She was even curious about what was in it.

But when I took her ratty yarn blanket away, her curiousity vanished. I put the cushy new dog bed down and urged her to try it. She sniffed at it, then took her nyla bone into the kitchen for a good chew. Over the course of the day she moved all her chews and toys to a new location, far away from the new bed.

The next day, instead of hanging out in the office on her fine new dog bed, she sat in the kitchen on the hard floor. After a while, I enticed her onto the new bed with a biscuit. She stepped gingerly onto the bed, picked up the biscuit and left. Later, I picked her up and put her on the bed. She stayed as long as I was scratching her belly, then headed back to the kitchen.

Eventually, she accepted that her ratty yarn blanket wasn’t coming back and started lying on the cushy new dog bed. We’re in a new status quo. She’s content in the corner of the office, all her nyla bones have migrated back, and I’m not tripping on the blanket.

So what can a story about my dog tell us about change?

  • Our wonderful ideas of how to make things better for other people may not be greeted with enthusiasm.

  • Other people may value things about the old way that we don’t see or don’t appreciate.

  • Things that we don’t like about the old way may be valued by other people.

  • It takes time for most sentient beings to adjust to a new way.

  • People accept the new way to retain something they value.

  • Even when the new way is accepted, people may look back fondly on the old way.

    So don’t take someone else’s lack of enthusiasm as an indictment of you or your ideas--but look at how you introduce your ideas.

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