The Change Agents’ Prayer

Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

The Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971) is the real title…

Being frustrated with bureaucracy is part of the deal we make in working for a large, complex organizations. Even with the best of intentions, policies are made that have many unintended and undesirable consequences in implementation.

Intrapreneurs are naturally hard-wired to want to make things better. Being faced with an organizational initiative that you can see may have negative consequences, can be very frustrating and demotivating.

We need to choose our battles. We cannot make every decision. Nobody can, not even the CEO. Trying to argue every coin toss is a recipe for burnout. Sure, we can share our opinions — then do our best to let go of the outcome. As long as there is nothing unethical involved, we can do our best to be a good soldier even if we do not agree with the orders.

Every once in a while, even if it feels unwelcome or even risky to dissent, we can make the case for change. We can do it to the best of our ability, and keep trying until we have nothing left to try. Martin Luther has (perhaps incorrectly) been credited with writing “Even if I knew the world would change tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today”.

Focus on planting your apple trees. Build your river banks. Let the farmers in the adjacent field do what they will.