Lessons of the Pupa

At a networking event recently, I said, "Hi. I'm Terry Seamon."

The guest speaker said, "What do you do?"

I replied, "I'm a Training and OD guy, currently in transition."

The guest speaker smiled from ear to ear and said, "Who isn't?"

Who isn't in transition? Whoa. A moment of zen, as Jon Stewart might say.

I worked with another organization development guy years ago who had a sign on his desk that read "Change Guy."

That's what we are in the OD field, we are change guys. Our business is change. Planning it, facilitating it. Helping people deal with it and change for the better.

Transition is our thing, you might say.

Transition can have different meanings, for example purposely moving from one place to another, as in the phrase "in transit," where someone is travelling toward a destination, but is not there yet.

Transition can also mean changing from one state to another, like what a caterpillar goes through to become a butterfly. There are actually four stages in its life cycle: embryo, larva (caterpillar), pupa, and imago (butterfly).

In the pupa phase, the insect loses its distinctive caterpillar structures and becomes unrecognizable for a time, slowly metamorphosing into its adult form.

As someone "in transition," I think there is a lesson to be learned from the pupa. I may have lost my prior shape and become unrecognizable for a while as I move toward my next incarnation.

As an organizational change agent, there are further lessons of the pupa, including that organizations desiring transformation will have to shed their former shape as a requisite step on the way to changing for the better.

Posted by Terrence Seamon, 11/15/06

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