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What driving motorbike in Indonesia has to do with experimenting and change management?
I’m back from my travels through different Indonesian islands while working on my reportage projects (see the first one about exploring Bali’s illegal cock fights). I’ve seen a lot of death in various forms during this time. Some of the coming writings (including this piece) and podcasts with Jarek will source (in)directly from my discoveries on the road.
Meanwhile, I moved the said “Let’s behave” podcast to Substack for easy access. With all my key initiatives in one place, I hope I will be able to offer you more value and better shape the offer of this newsletter in the future.
Now, back to the regular programming 📺
You are very brave
I get in an elevator holding my motorbike helmet in one of the Balinese hotels. An American couple quickly jumps in after me on the same floor. After few seconds, a conversation starts:
- You are very brave - says the man.
- What do you mean? - I respond.
- Well, you drive here, right? In all this crazy chaos, I cannot imagine it. I wouldn’t have the courage.
We both laugh, the door opens, and we go about our business.
Though many would disagree, I honestly believe that driving in Bali and some other parts of Indonesia is safer than in Europe.
I touched on this subject briefly in one of my previous articles, yet I wanted to explore it as a metaphor from a different angle here.
I borrowed this heading from Kevin Goldsmith as it very well describes how I see the Balinese move on the road. They:
Pay attention to what is happening around them.
Drive slower and predict situations in advance to be able to react quicker.
Have limited trust in the system and other drivers.
Use the horn often to inform others of a coming manoeuvre.
Don’t show any road rage and are kind to each other.
They break the rules to keep safe - this is a direct quote from a local.
The significant difference between the West and East I see is:
People in very codified countries tend to trust the system and think less, focusing on following specific processes. In countries like Indonesia, people don’t take things for granted, make their own decisions, and are more mindful of the traffic and surroundings. Depending on the region, they are also more kind and forgiving.
Now, that brings me to change management and experimentation.
Trusting the system can leave an individual stuck reenacting the same patterns with mediocre results. I’m not saying processes are bad. Yet if we deal with them mindlessly they won’t get us far. They can even mean a step back in whatever we are trying to achieve.
Below I share a mental note to myself as a reflection taking from the paralel above:
Be mindful that your improvement has a certain shelf-life. Observe if it still works for you, your team or the organisation after weeks or months.
Instead of asking always for permission - test the waters with an experiment being mindful about not messing too much with the environment. Sometimes breaking patters and asking for forgiveness can show in practice what you have been pitching for months.
Let others know you are doing the change and why. How will you make their lives better? What should they be mindful of? Why should they care?
Don’t do change for the sake of change - respond to a goal or a problem. In the end, it’s not about speed nor huge throughput.
Understand your company’s scaffolding:
What counts business-wise?
What are the non-negotiables in decision making? (like for real, not declarative)
What are the recent goals and mission?
Making a decision within the scaffolding mitigates the risk of excessive collateral damage. Additionally, one of the organisations I visited during an Agile Coaches exchange programme that I revitalised in Allegro many years ago had a specific role (more of a hat somebody took when needed) that let others know you are fixing something important for the organisation. By having this temporary title people knew that helping this person would benefit everyone.
Let me know in the comments what helps you being mindful in your organisations instead of blindly following the beaten path?
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