Small Change, BIG Shift.

Can a small change cause a big shift?

I remember attending an early morning boot camp a few years ago, and during an excruciating set of leg lifts, the instructor pointed out that a subtle shift in how I point my toe would exercise a different muscle. I remember thinking at the time, “Well, if that works for my body, I wonder if it will work for my mind…If I shift my thinking about something just one degree, can I experience a wholly different perspective or point of view?” The answer, I learned, is, “yes!” And, these same types of small shifts can help you create bold change in your workspace.

Let’s use a typical meeting room as an example. Most of them have a rectangular table in the middle of a room which is surrounded by 8 chairs. If you have enough alternative meeting spaces in your office, then remove the table from one of your standard meeting rooms and leave only six chairs, placed in a circle. Tell people to bring notebooks or clipboards if they want to take handwritten notes. Or, have them bring their iPads or laptops and put them on their lap (after all they are called LAPtops.) This small change can cause a big shift in your culture. How? Watch how people interact when they do not have a large flat horizontal table surface as a physical barrier. See how conversation moves around the circle when there is not a designated “head of the table.” Notice how one needs to be present in a meeting when he cannot text or skim iPhone messages by hiding a device under the table.

Designate this room for meetings of six or fewer people – resist the urge to pull more chairs in and cram them in the corners. Try it for three weeks and see what happens – I can guarantee you will start to see big shifts in culture – at least while people are working in that room! I think you will learn that employees like the change – and chances are, this small change will be less painful than those early-morning leg lifts!

Lisa Whited