10 June 2013

Time, change, and transformation

Many in the United States are familiar with the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action, an initiative of AARP, the AARP Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Participants at the Future of Nursing: Campaign for Action Summit 2013, held in Washington, D.C. early this year, used Liberating Structures to create action plans that advance Campaign for Action goals and objectives. Liberating Structures support change and transformation, and they provide leaders with new and creative ways to engage people in complexity change and transformation efforts.

The 2013 Summit, Transforming Health Care Through Nursing, produced some interesting results and action plans. Consider supporting efforts in your state or region related to the recommendations developed by Action Coalition participants. If nurses are to transform the future of nursing rather than change it, we need to become more conscious and reflective about differences that make a difference between change and transformation.

Transformation is what creates the butterfly's future.
Chris McGoff makes important distinctions between change and transformation. McGoff observes change fixes the past, whereas transformation creates the future. He notes that change is the work of managers, and transformation is the work of leaders. His observations suggest that, when it comes to issues of change and transformation, it is essential that people become more conscious of their perspectives on the nature of time and whether they are interested in a “fix” or a “creation.” There is a secret power to time. How might nurses become more conscious of and insightful about how time perspectives influence thinking, doing and acting in service of change and transformation?

Philip Zimbardo and John Boyd, authors of The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life (2008), suggest that one’s time perspective is the nonconscious personal attitude that each of us holds toward time. Our attitudes toward time are bundled into time categories that help to give order, coherence, and meaning to our lives. Zimbardo and Boyd have identified six time perspectives: 1) past-negative, 2) past-positive, 3) present fatalistic, 4) present hedonistic, 5) future, 6) transcendental future. If nurses are to transform the future and advance health, what time perspective do you think is most valuable in service to a transformed future goal?

In future blogs, I plan to touch on the topic of futures literacy and its importance for next-generation nursing leaders. Meanwhile, I invite you to discover your own time pattern perspectives and engage in some reflection around how the pattern that emerges for you supports or inhibits your sense-making in terms of the work you do.

Complete the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory. How does your pattern of time influence your thinking, feeling, doing? As you learn more about the six time perspectives, how does this knowledge and insight help you understand those in your care or work world? If you had to conjecture the time pattern of professional nurses as a group, what would you conclude? How does one’s pattern of time influence perspectives on change and transformation? To what degree is it possible to reset one’s psychological time clock?

Becoming aware of one’s time perspective influences the development of one’s leadership capacity and sets in motion different dynamics, based on the challenges of change and transformation. If nurses are to transform the future and advance health, then paying attention to the influence of time perspectives and the differences between change and transformation becomes an essential variable in the equation.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.