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Stop Pushing The Couch

By Tom Guarriello

A gang of years ago, an old friend said something that’s stuck with me ever since. He was frustrated about leading a “change process” in his organization. The more he talked, the more frustrated he got. Finally, he just stopped and said, “You know, leading this thing is like pushing a couch: as long as you push it, it moves; as soon as you stop, it stops.”

I just looked at him and laughed. What a great way to put it!

Since then, I’ve probably used that line hundreds of times, trying to get leaders to understand the importance of rethinking the fundamental mindset at work in their organization.

Change. The idea of “change” is interesting. Because our brains work in such funny ways, if somebody says, “change” we immediately think of its opposite. Can’t be helped.

Here, try this. Say the first word and see what happens.


See what I mean?

So, we need to stop talking about “change,” because our reflex is to contrast it with notions like “stability.” And “stability” is a word that has little place in 21st century business.

We need to find another way to talk about what we have to do today. “Adapt” is too passive. “Be proactive”; too “consultese”. “Constantly keep our eyes on the customer”; too 90s.

The only way we’re going to stop talking about “change” is to change (oops!) our assumptions about what makes organizations successful.

What is that?

Well, it’s actually pretty simple. We need to know the things that work and the things that don’t. We need to have the courage to keep doing the things that work, and to stop doing the things that don’t. And we need to have the wisdom to tell the difference between them.


See, when you think like that, there’s no such thing as “change.” Or, more accurately, there’s nothing but “change.”

So, we think you need to “Stop Pushing The Couch”; stop thinking, and talking about, “change” like it was something special, and start thinking about how to get your organization in shape to do what you need to do for your customers…every day.

And, we can help.

Explore the rest of our site…read our blog…watch our videos…listen to our podcasts…leave us ideas and stories. We’d love to know how your organization is handling “the couch”!

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