How much can you change things before it’s no longer the same thing? A hypothetical question circulates in organizational behavior circles: if you replace one plank of a ship, it’s still the same ship, but what if you replace them all? At what point is no longer the same ship?

This question came to mind recently when I saw the Canadian Brass, a group formed in 1970 but that now features only one of its original members, then I saw the FLY dance troupe, formed 22 years ago and now touring with 22-year olds, and when the Harlem Globetrotters came to town, obviously without any of the original 1926 players. How many members can you replace before it is no longer the same group?

Obviously, sports teams continue to play for decades with rotating rosters, Broadway shows replace their casts and bands rotate some of their musicians – all under the same name and brand. Think about your organization – what is the through line that provides consistency year after year? People come and go but for the enterprise to retain its essence, something needs to remain intact besides just the name.

Spending the time to clarify and celebrate what makes you be you is worth the time and effort to do.

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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