I have a ball-obsessed puppy who would play catch with you until she passed out from heat stroke.

But if I only have one ball, it is a futile experience. I throw it once and she holds on to it with clenched jaws. I have to fight to get it back.

In contrast, if I have two balls, I can throw one and she will retrieve it and immediately drop it at my feet then eagerly await the tossing of the second ball. This goes on for as long as I will participate.

Emma’s ball habits are the same as most humans. If we only have one thing that we know, we become very possessive and are hesitant to relinquish control. If something can be replaced with another, it becomes much easier to make a swap, especially if we trust that we will receive something in exchange rather than incur a loss.

Organizational change is like this, too. If the focus is only on taking away the old, people will clamp on and refuse to let go, but if we allow the new to be evident before we make a switch people become more willing to accept it.

Don’t play the change game with only one ball. It’s much more fun for everyone if there is a voluntary transfer instead of a tug-of-war.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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