from the unacceptable. — Denis Waitley
The story is told of Karl Benz, who in 1866 drove his first automobile
through the streets of Munich, Germany. He named his car the Mercedes
Benz, after his daughter Mercedes. The machine angered the citizens,
because it was noisy and scared the children and horses.
Pressured by the citizens, the local officials immediately established
a speed limit for “horseless carriages” of 3.5 miles per hour in the
city limits and 7 miles per hour outside the city limits. Benz knew he
could never develop a market for his car and compete against horses if
he had to creep along at those speeds, so he invited the mayor of the
town for a ride.
The mayor accepted. Benz then arranged for a milkman to park his horse
and wagon on a certain street, and, as Benz and the mayor drove by, to
whip up his horse and pass them — and as he did so to give the German
equivalent of the Bronx cheer. The plan worked. The mayor was furious
and demanded that Benz overtake the milk wagon. Benz apologized but
said that because of the ridiculous speed law he was not permitted to
go any faster. Very soon after that the law was changed.
We all know that change can be hard to implement. One of the most
challenging things you will do as a leader is to lead others through
changes. It’s been widely written about and will continue to be a
hot-button topic for leaders for years to come. Many oppose change
because it leads them out of their comfort zones and because it’s
something new. Others oppose change because of perceived risks. We
know that life is full of risks and can never be fully eliminated.
Sometimes you have to walk by faith. If you want to grow you have to
But I’d like to explore the other side of the coin with you. What
about those times when change is not for the best? How do you know if
it’s the right thing to do or not? Here are five questions to help
guide you through the decision-making process.
Does the change compromise your core values?
Your core values are a reflection of who you are and every decision
your organization makes flows out of these values. If the change you
are considering in any ways compromises your values then change would
not be advisable. If on the other hand they support and strengthen
those values then proceed.
Does the change compromise your integrity?
At the end of the day your core values and integrity are the two most
essential things you have that drive your business and the way in
which you do it. If the proposed change you are considering
compromises your integrity then the answer is a no-brainer. Don’t do
Does the change add value or subtract value?
Your success has been tied in large part to the value and service you
have provided to others. If this change idea you have is going to
subtract value in any way to your employees or to those you serve then
perhaps it’s not the best change decision. Is there not a better way
to move forward?
Does the change pass the smell test?
What is the underlying motivation for making this proposed change? Is
it primarily a political one? Has it been hastily presented? These can
be and usually are red flags that should not be overlooked. If it does
not pass the smell test then chances are the change idea is not a good
Does the change inspire and call forth the best from your team?
Not all change is welcomed nor is it easy to execute. But you will
know it is right when the enthusiasm of the buy-in far exceeds the
negativity of the change. When your team has been inspired,
challenged, and embraces this change then you know you have made a
good decision. If the opposite is true then you may want to pivot and
consider other options.
It was George Bernard Shaw who said, “Progress is impossible without
change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change
anything.” Welcome change, embrace change, and desire change. But at
the end of the day, make sure it’s the right change.
What do you say?
Doug Dickerson is a syndicated columnist. He writes a weekly column
for this newspaper. To contact Doug Dickerson, email him at