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Lane Lyceum: Immunity to Change (6/2)

by | May 23, 2020

Now more than ever, as we look to re-establish the means by which we function as a community and a society, there is an urgent imperative to foster new approaches, to change how we think and act politically, socially and environmentally. But change is difficult: memory, habits and biases – conscious or unconscious – will bring us reflexively back to the same patterns of interaction and purpose. 

As we learned from Marty Linsky a few weeks ago, there are two ways of framing the challenges ahead: some will be “technical challenges” and others will be “adaptive challenges”. Technical challenges can be solved by techniques and the knowledge of experts. They are step-by-step linear solutions, like changing the battery in your car. But adaptive challenges are more complex and multi-layered. In the language of Jan Galkowski’s talk Consider a Flat Pond, they require system-level thinking. Adaptive challenges require people to learn new ways of doing things, change their attitudes, values and norms and adopt a more experimental mind-set.

In this session, Dr. Deborah Helsing of Harvard Graduate School of Education and Minds at Work will examine how we can enable solutions to adaptive challenges and what she and others (including her colleague Robert Kegan) refer to as the Immunity to Change. The session will include an introduction to the topic followed by facilitated exercises to help evaluate our own internal dynamics that encourage and simultaneously inhibit our ability to make changes on important priorities.

What’s My Immunity to Change?

Why is it so difficult to make the changes we sincerely want to make? What will actually enable us to succeed? Desire and motivation aren’t enough: even when it’s literally a matter of life or death, the ability to change remains maddeningly elusive. Deborah will introduce you to the Immunity to Change approach, a novel, research-based personal improvement method that is now being used for all kinds of change goals, all over the world. You’ll learn how to identify and overturn your own psychological immune system.

What would you most like to get better at?  Come to this session with an improvement goal in mind!

This Lyceum will be held at 7:30 on Tuesday, June 2nd. Please refer to BellNotes for the Zoom link and password.

About the Presenter:

Deborah Helsing, Ed.D. holds a faculty position at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, teaching courses in Adult Development, Immunity to Change, and providing individualized executive coaching to high potential educational leaders as part of the Doctor of Educational Leadership program. Deborah is also Co-Director of Minds at Work, where she coaches, consults, and provides training on the Immunity-to-Change approach. Deborah is also Co-Director of Minds at Work, where she coaches, consults, and provides training on the Immunity-to-Change approach.   

Her most recent publications include co-authoring An Everyone Culture:  Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization, winner of an 800-CEO-Read Business Book Award, The Immunity to Change Coach’s Guide, and Right Weight, Right Mind: The ITC Approach to Permanent Weight Loss.

Additional Resources

Deborah has provided the following two templates to download and print out for use in the workshop:

The Immunity to Change methodology is elaborated in a book of the same name, by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey, Harvard GSE professors and founders of Minds at Work, where Deborah Helsing is Co-Director. The Immunity to Change book offers a detailed blueprint on the philosophy and process, along with case-studies threaded throughout to provide context.

Immunity to Change is an outgrowth of Kegan’s earlier work, which explores stages of adult development. This is laid out in his seminal book, The Evolving Self, which is described this way by Harvard University Press:

The Evolving Self focuses upon the most basic and universal of psychological problems—the individual’s effort to make sense of experience, to make meaning of life. According to Robert Kegan, meaning-making is a lifelong activity that begins in earliest infancy and continues to evolve through a series of stages encompassing childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The Evolving Self describes this process of evolution in rich and human detail, concentrating especially on the internal experience of growth and transition, its costs and disruptions as well as its triumphs.