A Lifehacker Facebook post read: “Hi bosses. If you’re gonna mess with sh*t, you should be able to explain why things are the way they are before you change things.” It’s advice that applies far beyond bosses and is especially a temptation for new employees.

People want to make progress and everyone wants to put their own stamp on things. Change is omnipresent, but it doesn’t make change-for-change’s-sake a good thing. It’s a good rule of thumb to be able to understand why things are the way they are now before you jump in and head a different direction. There may be valid reasons why the status quo came to be and vested interests in keeping it that way.

Organizations and people are only able to absorb so much change at one time. You may decide to save your change capacity for something else if you learned more about “what is” and why, or you may uncover points that give merit to your argument about why change is necessary.

Either way, if you’re gonna mess with it, first come to appreciate what led to it being how it is now. The time it takes to understand the context is almost always time well spent.

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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