How to introduce change: the skanky blanket story

We don’t like change. 

No matter how we dress it up, even when sometimes it can feel adventurous or exciting or bold or brave, there’s still a part of us which is uncomfortable with any change, and therefore resists it. 

Some of us are more like that than others. Or perhaps what I mean is, some of us take longer to process the resistance than others. I know people who adjust to change very, very quickly. So quickly it seems like they welcome it and have no issue with it and are thrilled for things to change. 

Our resistance varies depending on our personality and our history and the type of change.

A person who welcomes one type of change (perhaps of a job or a house move) might really struggle with another kind (like someone else moving away or a new lockdown regulation). Or it might be the speed of the change or the shock of the news – we actually quite like the change, or we know we will eventually, but it takes a while to get adjusted to it. 

I have a hard time with change that’s thrown at me out of the blue. I take time to process things – a lot of time. (Sometimes I feel like it’s too much time, but I’m working on accepting who I am and not trying to be like, or think I need to be like, someone else in my processing.) If I get hints of things and it’s slow and gradual and my mind has time to adjust to it, I can do that, and it’s all very patient and moves well. 

But if it’s thrown at me out of the blue, or just instantly happens, I feel like everything in my head has been flipped upside down and it’s going to take me a while to get it all back into place. Or into new places. Like one moment I’m standing on the firm ground and the next I’m upside-down on a roller coaster and I don’t know what direction it’s going. 

I don’t like roller coasters. Never have. They give me headaches, and it’s too much movement too fast. (The only one I’ll put myself through is the Forbidden Journey one at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, because you get to feel like you’re literally flying through the air over Hogwarts and a Quidditch field and that’s okay, that’s worth getting a headache for.) 

I’m a planner. I work through the possibilities in my head so I can be mentally ready for something (because I know how I get thrown if it’s too much too fast), and I think through how it could go and how it might go and how I might feel and what they might say and what I would say. Many times what I work through isn’t quite how it goes in the end, or at all, but the process of thinking it through helps me not to feel so discombobulated. 

We were talking about changes last week in our team meet, and about how getting a change either sprung on you or moved in without your realising it throws us all off. We need time to understand what’s coming, if we can, and do a slow transition so it’s not a big shock to the system. It applies to our clients when we make a change for them (like introducing a new team member or changing the way we do the work), and it applies to us when a change is made by someone else (like a company we work with changing our point of contact or changing prices). 

So then Kier tells us this amazing story about his dog, Tate. He said yea, my dog Tate has this blanket that he just loves. A fluffy blanket he sits on and curls up in and lives life with. But every six months or so that blanket gets a bit skanky, a bit tired, a bit old. It’s really not even that fluffy anymore and it needs to go. He needs a fresh new one. But even though the new blanket is EXACTLY the same – like literally ordered from the same shop and with all the same qualities the old one had six months ago – Tate is suspicious of it and wants the old one. 

So Kier and Jen do a bit of a slow switcheroo. They don’t disappear the old blanket and bring in the new one straight away – they just order the new blanket and one day leave it lying close to the old one. Just sort of sitting there. No pressure, nothing you need to do with it mate, just one day there’s a fresh new blanket over there. The one one is still yours, still safe. 

And then the next day it inches a bit closer. Maybe after a few days both blankets are in the basket together, and Tate is still curled up in the old one, but the new one is there too. 

And that goes on for a while until one day (or maybe one night in the dead of night when all is quiet) the old blanket just disappears and Tate doesn’t even notice because by then he’s welcomed the new blanket and all is well. 

The two-blanket rule works really well for change we know is coming – change we are making and introducing, and we want to mitigate any potential shock to the system as much as possible. 

It’s a slow transition, done in stages. 

This could be things like…

  • Introducing a new team member who is working on a project. “Hey, I know you’ve been working with this person, and now this other person is going to sit in on our meetings.” After a while the second person starts contributing some, and then they start leading some of the meetings, and then the two people are working together, and then one day you’re meeting with just one person and that’s all okay, because you’re comfortable with it. 
  • Bringing in a new system or app or way of working. “So we have this way we’re all used to, and that’s great, but just sort of use this one now and then and give us feedback on it so we know it’s working, or where it’s not working.” Then over time you keep improving the new one until one day it’s a short and simple announcement that the old ways are gone and the new app or system is the way forward and all is well and they hardly even notice the old one anymore. 
  • Changing your firm name. Many firms we’re working with are considering changing their business name, and they’re often concerned their clients will not like it. Some of them won’t like it, because it indicates change and they need time to work through that. So you hint towards it with some comments and social posts and little sneak previews. You make sure it’s not a shock to their system by saying “So our business has been changing slowly over the years and we’ve realised who we are and what we stand for isn’t represented in the best possible way by the name we chose many years ago. Actually we didn’t really choose it, we just sort of grabbed it out of the air and figured it would work for a while, and it did. But now we’ve given it a lot of thought and there are some changes coming, but don’t worry, they reflect who we truly are and we’re with you every step of the way…” And you keep mentioning it and sharing how excited you are and what it’s teaching you about who you are as a firm and how you can be better so you can help them be better… and eventually they realise it is better, loads better, and you haven’t become another company overnight. 

…or any kind of change you are making which could throw people off a bit. 

Granted, there are times for the instant announcement, the fast move, the shock to the system. This two-blanket rule doesn’t apply to every change ever: it just applies to the ones you’ve planned for, you know are coming, and you even know the sort of response you might get from those who are nervous of the change and what it might mean.

What it means for them and for your relationship and for future work and whatever else they’re concerned about or hold tightly or don’t want to lose.

And right now, more than ever, we need the two-blanket rule.

Because the whole world shifted on us without advance notice, and in March we didn’t know how long this would last. And when lockdown hit we didn’t know how we would survive a few weeks and now it’s been six months. And every time we get another change and another regulation and another shift, we have to adjust and re-adjust and move our blankets around and wonder if the whole basket or the whole house or the whole world is going to move, too. 

So, as much slow-and-steady introduction of the new thing we can do, the better for those who are weary of change. Who just want the blanket they’ve got to stay the same because it’s familiar and it’s comfortable and it’s what we know (even though we know, deep down, the skanky blanket will have to go, and the new one will be better).

Oh, and here’s some pics of the actual real Tate, working through his blanket transition. 

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Well. So. Small update.

Was out hiking on mull and slipped on a rock crossing a burn, and broke my ankle. (I remember hearing an audible “crack” as I went down.)

No signal on phone. Managed to climb down a ravine to get to a more open place and hopefully signal. At that point still convinced it “wasn’t that bad”. Tried to walk along the path and realised yes, it was that bad.

Phoned coast guard, who were utter legends. Sent a boat AND a helicopter. Sun was setting and they didn’t want me sitting in the dark. Oh my word it was cold. Helicoptered out to fort William hospital (nicest people ever), then down to airdrie where I got a cast.

Ankle broken in one place. Doctors pleased (as much as you can be!) it’s a clean break & lining up well. I’ll be down for 4-6 weeks.

I’ve repeated myself a lot over the last few days so here’s the short version to all the questions, with appreciation for the care.

Yes, I’m okay. I’m also utterly exhausted & have hit the “damn, this is going to be a long road” phase. Taking it one day, one hour at a time. 

I’m being looked after. Very kind friends and things being delivered. My amazing sister @secondsunrise2 flying in tomorrow from america to be with me for a few weeks. SO grateful.

What do I need? I’m good on the basics. There have been unexpected costs and more coming so if you want to PayPal monies for deliveries or getting my car & belongings back or all the taxis or whatever, feel free. I’m hardly destitute so only do that if you want to send something useful and aren’t sure what. PayPal username karenlreyburn. Amazon wishlist in bio. Random care packages also happily received!

My car & belongings are up on mull. I have people to help and we are working on timing. But if you’re on mull and want to return a car near Glasgow, let me know :)

Shout out to the Coast Guard for being so swift, & that beautiful combination of sympathy and practicality.

Download the @what3words app. Literal lifesaver.

That’s all for now. All the love. Oh - and no, I don’t hold this against mull at all. It’s still my happy place. Things happen & the mull community has been beautiful. Shout out to @treshnish who couldn’t have been kinder. ❤️
Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon