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My wife and I have one major difference in our preferred way of social living. She is a great planner who loves order and certainty, whereas I like a large element of spontaneity in our social activities. My wife came up with an excellent strategy - she would plan spontaneity slots in her diary! This (oxymoron) is a bit of a compromise but has developed into a great way of satisfying two people with the same event. She has taken this further by planning events and then suggesting them at the last minute, trusting that I will think its a great idea and enjoy the ’surprise'. The point being that we have found a way for our different preferences to be satisfied equally.

We have always known about this difference but rather than work together on a solution we usually used our differences to poke fun at each other. I would be the ‘airhead’ who is forgetful, often late and never organises anything in time. She would be the control freak who has 2-minute slots in her diary for toilet breaks.  Many years ago we both did the Myers-Briggs psychometric test and found that we were one ‘letter’ different. My extreme ‘P' and her extreme ‘J' were a useful expression of our different preferences and the MBPT process led us to finding ways of working together.

As a change leader it is important to work with your sponsor, stakeholders and management team in a way that suits them. A good understanding of their preferences will help extract key objectives, provide appropriate reporting, and give clear direction, such that they believe you are ‘one of them’. The first step to be a 'change chameleon' is to understand your surroundings such that you can adapt appropriately - from company culture to individual personalities. This will inevitably require multiple ways of doing things and this may appear inefficient, but its not - the cost of miscommunication or lack of advocacy is far more expensive in the long run.

An important set of stakeholders that are often forgotten in a change programme are other change initiatives. Whether they are at vision stage or post-implementation review, other projects can have a huge impact on your change programme. Getting to know these projects will help shape your programme and keep it on track. For example, a large and time-critical regulatory change project will likely have the attributes of an ocean liner and cannot be easily moved. It is therefore sensible that you do your best to move alongside it. Another example is an agile project where it is constantly iterating through a series of small implementations. It may have the ability to contribute to your programme to share some component solutions or even team members with new experiences. Getting to know other projects and where there are similarities and differences should avoid conflict and enable your programme to deliver efficiently within a portfolio of change.