Change ManagementFeaturedLeadership

And with your spirit

By Ron Pereira Updated on December 28th, 2011

Roman Catholics around the word recently saw a huge change to the way Mass is celebrated.

Specifically, there were several changes to the prayers we say.

For example, prior to the change if you walked up to any Catholic and said, “The Lord be with you…” he or she would surely reply, “And also with you.”

Now, when the priest says, “The Lord be with you” we reply, “And with your spirit.”

Change is Hard

I won’t get into the reason this is a far more accurate reply… that’s not the point of this article. The point of this article is to explain how difficult change can be.

You see, we Roman Catholics are really into standardization! No matter where you attend Mass in the world the same readings are said. And, for the most part, the order of the Mass is exactly the same. As are the prayers we say.

So, needless to say, making major changes to the “Standard Work” of the Mass is hard stuff.

Cards in Pew

These changes were implemented the First Sunday of Advent (Nov 27, 2011). We all had cards available to help us. But even with the card in my hand I kept forgetting to reply, “And with your spirit.”

All of this really got me thinking about how hard changing any type of Standard Work can be.

It makes no difference if the changes are prayers said or work instructions for assembly operators. Change is hard… but sometimes necessary.

So, here are a few tips I have learned over the last month.

1. Advanced Warning

Prior to the change our parish announced it was coming. This was much better than simply dumping the change, unannounced, on us.

So, be sure to let everyone in your organization know changes to standard work are coming. This will help them prepare their minds for the change.

Also, it’s important to know that many people hate change. Any change. So, offering an advanced warning can help buffer the blow.

2. Documentation

Next, having the cards with the changes was definitely needed. Without them it would have been true chaos. We also practiced many of the prayers prior to the changes being implemented.

So, it goes without saying, that any and all changes to standard work should be thoroughly documented.

This documentation should also be used to train associates on the job (or in the pew).

3. Practice

Finally, no matter how much advanced warning is given the only way to deal with changes to standard work is to practice.

It’s been a little more than a month since these changes have been made and I am doing much better.

I still use the card for some of the longer prayers but now feel much more comfortable with the whole, “And with your spirit” side of the Mass.

What do you think?

If you’re Roman Catholic how have you dealt with the change?

And even if you aren’t Catholic how do you recommend implementing major changes to Standard Work? What would you add/subtract from my list above?

  1. Mark R Hamel

    January 3, 2012 - 7:53 am


    Great post and Happy New Year!

    I have been struggling with my transition to the new “standard work” at Mass, but I’ll eventually get there. It seems that after doing something the same way for 40+ years, I’m a bit on automatic pilot…

    One thing that I think is implicit in your “advanced warning” tip, but warrants mention, is the proof of the need. The stakeholders, in this case the parishioners, need to know the reason for the change. The Reader’s Digest version is that we are correcting a somewhat sloppy English translation from the Vatican II Latin. Fortunately, the rest of the world got it right.

    • Ron Pereira

      January 3, 2012 - 9:18 am

      Excellent point on “why” change is needed, Mark. Our parish briefly mentioned it but probably could have done more.

    • James Lawther

      January 8, 2012 - 2:34 am

      “Why” the change is happening is great.

      “What is in it for you” is even better

      Though I suppose in this case that is a difficult question to answer

      Very good example Ron


  2. Mary Adams

    January 4, 2012 - 9:26 am

    I still mess it up even as I hold the card in my hand! Like Mark said, old habits are hard to break.

    And as it relates to Standardized Work I definitely support your 3 points above and would add a 4th – namely to allow the people doing the work help with the changes. I find that when associates are involved they are much more likely to buy in and help push the change through.

  3. Mark Welch

    January 9, 2012 - 2:17 pm

    This is maybe beyond the scope of this post, but I’d add to always follow up the new standardized work with training using the JIT method (the “why” discussed above is certainly part of this), then regular audits until the behavior has satisfactorily changed and become habit. Not punitive, of course – keeping respect for people in mind.

    Too often I see new processes developed, announced, then those who developed the new processes just walk away and don’t understand why the process is not followed. Without the follow up we nearly always snap back to “the way we’ve always done it.” It took me quite some time in my lean journey to realize that physical changes made by teams were nearly always more successful than procedural changes. Why? Changing people’s behavior is a lot more difficult than “moving furniture.” The furniture won’t snap back into its original state (without a little help from human hands and minds).

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