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Connection, Community, and Change!

Do you know that feeling after you’ve had a wonderful moment? Maybe it’s an inspiring conversation with someone you enjoy, or sharing a fantastic meal with someone and having the perfect amount of good food and connection? It’s a feeling of fullness, contentment, and a deep sense of satisfaction.

That’s how I feel.

You see, the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) Change San Diego conference, held last week, has reminded me of the power of connection and community. Granted, we were in-person and had the advantage of being able to hug, make eye contact and talk (without someone saying, “you’re on mute”) and the ability to see professional colleagues, many of whom are now dear friends, filled me with joy.

Our world has become much more complex, and the significance of community has never been more apparent. Despite our day-to-day virtual interactions and digital connections, the innate human need for genuine human connection remains unchanged. From online cohorts to group connection chats, community transcends physical boundaries and offers a sense of belonging and camaraderie.

I recognize the irony of a change management professional bemoaning the change of using more digital communication tools. This is not a change I’ve resisted, I love the convenience of my online communities, and the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers from around the globe. These virtual spaces provide a platform for discussion, collaboration, and mutual support which fosters relationships that would otherwise not be possible.

But digital communities also present unique challenges such as a lack of accountability, surface-level interaction, and the ease of disconnecting from a challenging conversation or difficult process. In our quest for connection, it is essential to strike a balance between virtual and in-person interactions. While online communities provide invaluable access, nothing can replicate the richness of face-to-face communication. In-person interactions allow for nuanced expression, non-verbal cues, and shared experiences that foster deeper connections and mutual understanding.

One of the many highlights at ACMP Change San Diego was that my student, and now dear friend, Suzanne Gerety was selected to present a session entitled “Dancing with Change: The Show Must Go On!” and she was fantastic! I was honored to introduce her and watch the audience consume her presentation with delight. Suzanne joined our READY, Set, Change! Accelerated Training and Exam Prep and earned her CCMP™ two weeks after the course ended. I must admit that there are not many experiences as fulfilling as seeing one of your students soar!

I can’t overstate the significance of physical presence. Whether it's a friendly smile, a welcoming hug, or a shared laugh, the bonds forged through in-person interactions are irreplaceable. Attending an in-person conference with my peers reinforced that regardless of the medium through which they are formed, meaningful connections require intentionality and effort.

I’m hoping to encourage you to step out of your online existence and find a way to connect and participate in a meeting or event in-person. Building strong relationships takes time, patience, and genuine interest in the well-being of others. By actively engaging with our communities, both virtually and in-person, we can foster a culture of empathy, understanding, and mutual support that enriches our lives and advances our project and change management professions.

Recognized as one of the Top 30 Global Guru’s in Organizational Culture both in 2021 & 2022, April is an internationally known organizational change management expert who has implemented change for government, health care, higher education and corporate clients. April is the author of four books including the bestsellers “READY, Set, Change! Simplify and Accelerate Organizational Change” and “READY, Set, CCMP™ Exam Prep Guide".  Contact her at [email protected]