Showing posts from November, 2015

The Theory of Thirds

I've introduced, or encouraged the introduction of, many changes in organizations. Here's what I've learned. Faced with change, staff divides into thirds. One third says, “I have been waiting for this moment all of my life.” They embrace it enthusiastically.One third says, “Gosh, I don't know. I have some questions about this. But if you'll provide some support, I can probably do this.”One third says, “Over my dead body.” The problem, of course, is that they don't usually say that out loud. They think it. They feel it. But they pose as one of the other thirds.Working with the first third is fun. Such people revel in the change. They come alive. They stretch and grow. They invest themselves in the future, and so it comes to bear the stamp of their personalities and gifts. The second group voices legitimate concerns that, if answered with diligence and respect, can turn a wild idea into a profound institutional transformation. It too, results in personal and profes…


I just finished Sarah Vowell's "Lafayette in the Somewhat United States." A wonderful book. I wonder how many people know that our success in the Revolutionary War was absolutely dependent upon the French - whose navy fended off British forces while Washington defeated Cornwallis in Yorktown. Among the greatest of Revolutionary heroes was the Marquis de Lafayette, who left his French home and family at 19 to pledge his honor and life to the Revolution, and went on to become, while still in his early 20s, a major general under Washington. As Vowell quotes, "He acknowledged to his American hosts on his triumphal return tour to the U.S. that there was 'much to deplore' in the South's practice of slavery..." But then, "Lafayette lifted his glass at one reception to toast 'the perpetual union of the United States,' adding, 'it has always saved us in time of storm; one day it will save the world.'"

In 1917, when the …