Alexis Monville (en)

Can we be offended by change?

I woke up one morning, and there was a heated conversation on my favorite mailing-list. Someone had made a point that for the annual donation, and among other possible charities, we should pick Sandy Hook Promise.

Sandy Hook Promise (SHP) trains students and adults to know the signs of gun violence. SHP develops and delivers community programs that help identify, intervene and help at-risk individuals; promotes gun safety practices that ensure firearms are kept safe and secure; and advocates for state and federal laws and policies in the areas of mental health & wellness and gun safety that result in the reduction of gun-related death and injury.

The foundation is named after the elementary school in which in 2012, a 20-year-old man shot 20 children between six and seven years old, and six adult staff members.

If you don’t live in the US, it is hard to understand why the topic is controversial. I think I still don’t really understand.

The basic reasoning for people outside the US could be summed up as:

  • Guns are designed to kill people,
  • So if we want to avoid people to be killed,
  • We need to control the possession of guns strictly.

Those kinds of policies are adopted all over the world.

We adopted similar kinds of policies for other technologies that could be harmful to others.

We adopt strict policies and regulations for cars. You need to learn how to drive, pass an exam to get a license to drive, contract an insurance to be able to drive a car. The car has to respect certain norms to be allowed on public roads and needs to be registered in the state where you live.

This sounds really simple. And you could say that we could adopt exactly the same mechanism for guns.

But it is not what happens.


Why was the conversation heated?

Because someone said, he was offended by the proposal to have someone advocating for something that was going against his values.

Offended? Really?

My first reaction was to say that you cannot be offended! You can disagree with financing that foundation, but you cannot be offended! By the way, that foundation is not advocating for gun control, even if it is true that a second Sandy Hook foundation is doing precisely that. But even if it was a foundation advocating for gun control, you cannot be offended. You can disagree and not vote for that choice. You can even advocate for people to give money to the NRA. But I still don’t see how you can be offended.


I reflected on that notion of being offended when a suggested change conflicts with what you consider is who you are.

I realized that I found myself in situations similar where the conversation became suddenly emotional because I was trying to explain to managers that our goal was to aim toward self-organization. Of course, it was less dramatic, and no lives were at risk in that context. But it seems the mechanism was similar.

From my perspective, it was a progressive change in which managers and employees will have to learn to work differently. I had presented all the rationale to support the idea. It will be better on all the aspects that we cared about: for people, for innovation, for the quality of our delivery and so on.

For some managers, the proposal attacked who they were. The proposal attacked how they defined themselves.

They did not say it that way, but I guess they were offended.


To overcome that, we worked with the whole team on defining the roles that people adopt. Our goal was to separate the people from the role or roles they could play in the organization. You can achieve your goal with other means.

What is your goal as a manager? What are your motivations? There were multiple goals and multiple motivations expressed. We used the Moving Motivators to surface the differences between people. Globally they wanted to have an impact on the success of their teams to generate success for the company.

The proposal was made to achieve exactly that. They could achieve exactly that by changing the mean, their way of working, their way of managing and still achieve their goals.

Some managers were already operating in the proposed way, some embraced the change immediately, some were skeptical and took more time, and unfortunately, some left the company. It was not possible for them at that time to accept that change.

You can read more about how their roles could evolve in that post: Could your team be managing itself?

(and you will be able to read much more in the upcoming second version of the Chapter 10 of Changing Your Team From The Inside)

When we are exposed to opinions, propositions, ideas, that are conflicting with our current set of knowledge, it is difficult to take a step back and exercise our critical thinking in a rational way.

Why should we continue to do something the same way?

Can we change the mean and still achieve our goal?


Can we apply that approach to the more dramatic problem of guns?

Maybe. The Legal Information Institute of the Cornell Law School explains:

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Such language has created considerable debate regarding the Amendment’s intended scope.

The goal is the security of free State.

Can we ensure that without guns? Or does treating guns like we treat cars change anything in achieving that goal?

The warning of the existence of “considerable debate” is speaking loud about other underlying goals. I know that I will not solve that massive problem in a single blog post.


I hope that I will have helped you consider not only the rationale aspect of a proposed change but how the proposed change can trigger reactions that could be difficult to understand, and even to express for the people involved. As an agent of change, you want to consider that.


Your thoughts are welcome as usual!

Thank you!


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