What advice could a billionaire offer to us as change practitioners? In fact, the counsel that Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater (hedge fund), offers in this article is not specific to us; however, it contains an important message for us to heed… Be radically open-minded.

How does this relate to practicing our craft?

  • Stay alert. Early in a career, it is easier to stay focused and to be present. You are learning a new methodology; you are experiencing new challenges; you are feeling the rush of new discoveries. After a while, however, it is easy to fall into a routine. You’ve done this before, many times. You fail to see the cues that say things have shifted. While the principles that underlie your approach are still sound, top-down sponsorship may no longer carry the authority it once did; resistance may be voiced, but in different ways than you are used to looking for. Stay alert.
  • Learn, learn, learn. The depth and breadth of knowledge regarding change continues to grow exponentially. Much of this growth is available to you through conferences, workshops, and publications. Fields related to Organizational Change Management—Organizational Development, Project Management, Business Relationship Management, and others—are also adding to our wisdom. So are numerous other fields including coaching, organizational network analysis, and neuroscience. Integrate their knowledge into your practice as well. Learn, learn, learn.
  • Make new friends. We tend to hang out with people a lot like us. Professionally, our colleagues may help us grow around the edges; it is unlikely that they challenge us to the very roots of our thinking. Yet if we are to practice at the top of our craft, this is what is necessary. Make new friends.

While our profession continues to take root, the world around us continues to change at an ever-increasing pace. The only way we can catch up, and keep up, is to be radically open-minded.