Facilitating Change in a “VUCA” World with Reimar Paschke

Today I had the pleasure of talking with experienced change facilitator Reimar Paschke. There were many gems in the conversation, but my favorite was, “By saying “no,” I got what I wanted.” Reimar tells the inspiring story behind why he said this.

We also talked about why he sometimes hates the phrase “change management” and prefers “change leadership.” And then everybody’s favorite – the culture topic. Specifically, the culture “iceberg” – things we can see, things we can’t, and what to do about that.

And there’s a lot of talk lately in the agile and transformation worlds of “failure culture.” Reimar talks about what’s “trigger-ish” about that phrase “failure culture,” and why “learning culture” feels like a better alternative.

We also explored the question “What does management look like in a “VUCA” world?” (VUCA is short for volatile, uncertain, complex ambiguous). Reimar pointed out that traditional management often means knowing where you are going, how to get there, and what it will look like when you arrive. But we can’t know this in VUCA. So how do we as change facilitators help managers not only survive, but thrive in atmospheres of constant change?

Empathy also came up as a key topic. I so appreciated Reimar mentioning how important it is to start with where people are vs where you want them to be, because that also has been one of my own most important learnings as a transformation coach. He tells the story of how being an engineer first helped in that regard, and that becoming a true change catalyst means getting to a place where people come to trust you because they believe you bring something truly relevant and valuable vs being perceived as “the flower-power hippie.” (guilty as charged 🙂 ) 

And finally we touched on a topic near and dear to my heart, which is how in agile transformations and change initiatives, sometimes middle managers feel like “The Lost Layer.” Reimar and I both believe their roles remain important, but in different ways. When I asked, “What message would you want to give to managers? Reimar responded by suggesting managers ask yourselves, “What can you let go of, to be open to the new. . . no one generally enjoys mechanistic management. . . even in holocracy, you need leadership.” What does helping people” look like when it’s not controlling them?”

Gratitude to Reimar for this incredibly valuable interview! To say thank you, a donation has been made in your name to the Rotary International Foundation on Promoting Peace.

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