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Is knowing the "why" enough?

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

So you understand and believe in the “why” of your organisation’s transformation and that it’ll benefit both you and the organisation but you don’t need to change at the moment. Is that right?

I often hear this sentiment. It’s easy to fall into this trap and it can take an event for us to join the dots before we make fundamental changes. Here’s something that happened to me recently that’s got me thinking about this topic.

A couple of years ago I took up the piano after a long break of around 35 years. I found a wonderful local piano teacher who I now visit once a week. Instead of playing classical music (which I’m still fond of) I’m learning to play jazz. I love it and am enjoying the tricky rhythms.

Right from the start my teacher recommended that I practise scales. She gave me lots of reasons why including how it’d help me develop muscle memory, hand coordination and accurate fingering.

I totally agree…in theory. However I’m playing for fun. I’m not doing exams and I don’t need to be perfect. I was practising scales a bit but generally only on the mornings of my lessons. The rest of the time I improved just by playing jazz.

Until in one lesson I was getting frustrated. There were a few notes that my fingers kept missing. I knew what the notes should be and how they should sound but I still kept getting them wrong.

My teacher pointed out that my fingers just weren’t programmed to make the transition between those notes. My fingering wasn’t accurate. That’s when the penny dropped. I realised that if I practised scales more frequently then my coordination and fingering might improve.

These days I love playing scales. I play both staccato and legato, crescendo and diminuendo, slowly or quickly. My hands are getting more nimble and lighter on the keys and I hit the notes more accurately.

Why didn’t I figure this out earlier?

I believed the theory, I just didn’t do it.

When thinking of transformation, it’s all well and good for us to understand and agree why change is essential but we need more than this if we're going to enjoy putting effort into transforming.

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