Unraveling the Mystery of Change

The Sky from a Window

The mystery of Change is nothing but the continuum of time. Where Time as we define and understand is expressed in terms of Past, Present and Future. However is time changing? Obviously not. But you and I are changing, the people associated with time. Here comes the paradox. We neither live in the past nor in the future but we live in the present. As long as were are alive we have the means breathing and have the ability to respond, don’t we? Once the breathing ceases, we cease to live. In the continuum of time therefore, we change or transform from one state of being to another. When we talk about Change, aren’t we then addressing this movement of us human beings from one state to another state; with the context changing with the settings, each demanding a different nature of change?


So there is no past and no future as far as you and I mere mortals are concerned. We were present in the past and we will be present in the future while we are present in the present. What is critical is that we enhance the experience of the present that allows us to effectively manage change. Yes, there is no typo here…it is the present I am talking about and not the future.

Managing Change therefore is all about the present and not about the future. The past if you recognize is a memory to the present and the future is imagination. Both are thought that have a grounding in the present. The past can only be a reference; it has no part to play in the present or the future because it is dead and gone. The future is yet to happen and it should not be influenced by the dead; only by the living. Wouldn’t you agree? If this sounds confusing, let’s examine the following example:

You have a picture clicked of yours. Now this picture is just your image of that moment and not you, the individual, isn’t it? A couple of years down the line, it is still an image of you. But if you have another picture clicked now, it is different from the previous one. You have lived through the two images at different times having undergone physical and chemical changes in your system. These changes are the result of your experiences of your presence (Living) in the present. Experience is the consequence of the confluence of Thought and Action; where Thought is a representation of a memory or an image of words and action is a consequence of your state of being to experience.

Knowledge is also an expression of Thought which is itself a representation of memory. Such memory necessarily need not be of the past alone. It can be of the imagined future as well. But essentially it is still a thought or an image of words. It is not an experience and without experience, you cannot cross over to a higher threshold of being or experiencing. Ask anyone who understands their body and they will tell you that you cross different thresholds of pain to sculpt a body shape of your choice. You have to experience the pain in order to know the next level. In other words, you have to be open to the idea of experiencing that pain; else you will never know what is the next higher threshold. And if you do not know the next higher threshold, your growth is stunted.


Experiencing or Cognitive Intelligence



This is the mystery that needs to be solved as far as Managing Change is concerned. It is making you open to the experience of the present. Here the term “Open” has to be clearly defined. Like the sky is open. But when you see it through your window, you are limiting the sky or the experience of it. Change is about your mindset being open to the infintie, the whole or the limitlessness of the potential that is represented by the sky here rather than the limitation of your window that is conditioned by your past memories and future imagination. Memories and Thoughts only present you with limitations in the form of insecurities and fears and phobias of a time when you and I did not have the capability of experiencing the pain and learning from it. Experiencing therefore has four elements to it as shown in the following illustration:

  1. Sensing: Collective images of what an individual or an organization is receving through all the five senses collectively.
  2. Perceiving: The interpretation or making meaning of the collective signals that the senses have produced.
  3. Learning: Is arriving at the actual understanding of the implications and the impetus to respond.
  4. Responding: Is the decision that drives Change in the cause of growth.

The critical success factor for managing change successfully is the ability to distinguish the difference between “Factual” and “Actual” and adapting the dictates of both mutually inclusively; without compromising one for the other. Because factual data is a representation of past memory that has different context and conditions while actual data is an accurate understanding emerging from the Learning of Potential. The will to respond to this potential is therefore the promise of performance for growth.

In my blog edition published on October 25, 2010 (http://wp.me/psMXu-39) titled Business Intelligence: How well it is thought through?, I had questioned this new found fancy for dead data or image of words alone. It becomes clear here that more than business intelligence, it is the Cognitive Intelligence that is critical and responsible for change. Cognition is nothing but intelligence that is derived from experience. And the reason why that experience has to be open is that, the most unconnected can be the key to a particular experience that leads to a learning for growth. Perhaps the following story will illustrate my point better.



Once a group of native American Tribesmen found a treasure box that was locked. They brought it back to the tribe recognizing that something important was in it because it was ornate and heavy and looked very bewitching. The elders of the tribe performed elaborate rituals on it to divine what was in it and find access to its contents. First they tried all the spells and magic they knew and when nothing worked decided it was evil. They probably figured it was cursed and so they spat and performed more rituals on it to exorcise it of evil spirits. Not being successful in opening it, they decided that they had to get rid of it as they did not want to own any evil. A few of them took the treasure chest to the top of the mountain and rolled it down. In the plains, the Amercian army that was passing by saw this treasure chest rolling down the mountain. They knew it was valuable as soon as they laid their eyes on it. As soon as they had brought it and settled in front of their unit leader, they knew they had to get a key made that could open the chest. Having learnt this, they worked towards creating an insignificant looking key that would open the lock to this treasure chest. And they were richer of the experience!


The magic or mystery as you may want to call it that is this change is nothing but that experiential learning.  This is not dictated by the actions of the past or your ambition of you want to “become” in the future. It is purely governed by your eagerness to live in the present and be open to an experience that can unlock the secrets of a potential that you can put to use for the current and the future. Change Management is therefore the success of converting Potential to Performance.

It is clearly established here that the focus of change is you and me living in the present. Therefore, is it any use when we talk about the timing of change? Life is Living and Continuous and therefore, how can it be a discrete initiative? Would your vision be guided by your capability to unlock the potential as an organization or writing a bunch of words that cannot stand the test of time; Past, Present or Future?

The Open Treasure Chest


Excellence is therefore the wholeness of Nature that one needs to be constantly and consistetly exposed to as an individual and organization to experience and embrace thereby creating an actual understanding of potential that can be converted into performance. This is the essence of Change for both an individual and an organization. Making this a part of the Values, Beliefs and Assumptions (Culture) of an organization enables successful growth as a consequence of managing change in the continuum of time; Living in the Present. Do not plan for a change in the FUTURE. Experience it NOW.



About Subbu Iyer

Subbu Iyer is an Innovation & Transformation Leader as with 28 years of serving customers globally. He is currently the Chief Designer & Transformer at Energizing Innovation, an enterprise that is being founded to facilitate continuous growth in enterprises and as a consequence create societal wealth. The Radical Shift that this enterprise intends to employ is focusing on the Potential rather than the Performance of a business. He has been a serial entrepreneur and an intrapreneur in his past life, having founded Nihilent Technologies and Nandaki Systems besides being associated in senior leadership roles with firms such as Coopers & Lybrand, Cambridge Technology Partners, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro Technologies and Steria.
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2 Responses to Unraveling the Mystery of Change

  1. Pooja Haritwal says:

    Subbu, You and your ideas always impressed me. You are an amazing writer and thinker… out of the world. I am fortunate to know you in person.

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