All of us have change capital. Change capital is like social capital or even economic capital. It’s something that we get to spend, we get to budget, and we get to invest as we navigate responding to change in our lives and in our work.

There is a folk tale that flies around when organizational change is happening (which, let’s be honest, is all the time). The folk tale is that people are really bad at change and don’t like to change.

That’s not true.

The truth is people are especially well-equipped to evolve and change.

The problem is that while our change capital is renewable, it is not unlimited.

Think about all the ways that we have to respond to change. Our capacity for change can become exhausted quickly. We do reach a max point at which we can’t make meaning out of what’s happening around us and respond to the change that we’re dealing with. It can be helpful to imagine our capacity for change as a big bucket. When the bucket is filled, our ability to make meaning of change is diminished. If my bucket is overflowing, something as simple as being asked to follow a different process to schedule a meeting might be too much change for one week.

Individually, we each take action to renew our change capital and create space in our metaphoric buckets. However, as leaders, there are many actions you can take to renew the collective change capital bucket of your organization. Here’s how to start.

We all have differently-sized change capital buckets.

Start with yourself. Have a heart-to-heart and ask, “How big is my change capital bucket?”

  • Am I somebody who loves every kind of change? Is change exciting to me, even if it’s hard?
  • Or am I somebody that likes tradition and stability? If I prefer routines and predictability, I can be responsive to change, but it’s likely that my change capital bucket is a little bit smaller.

How does the size of your bucket compare to others on your team? I encounter many leaders who love the adrenaline rush of trying new things, experimenting, responding to challenges, and change. Many of these same leaders work with people who have smaller change capital buckets. If your bucket is smaller it means your change capital capacity must be renewed more often.

Take action now:

Think about how you are spending change capital right now.

Are you spending your change capital on shifting priorities all the time, or constantly trying out new tools in this virtual world?

If every other week you are using a new tool to try to figure out virtual collaboration, you are spending precious change capital. That kind of experimentation may be the right thing for you to do, but it’s going to fill your change bucket.

It’s going to mean you have less reserves to respond to the market change or to respond to the uncertainty around what’s happening in your family or your community.

Just like you can prioritize monetary investments in your organization, you can also prioritize how to spend your change capital as well.