Whew! helps organizations navigate Change Points.
Whew!'s use of the term “Change Point” evolved out of Founder & CEO Desyree Dixon's conversations with clients. When considering their handling of some unexpected adverse event, clients often beat themselves up for being unable to "see the opportunity in the crisis."
The notion that crisis situations give rise to opportunity is a popular idea, put forth in both business and personal settings. The popularity of this mantra can cause us to feel pressure to dismiss or minimize difficult situations when they arise, or to see and appreciate the "good aspects" of such situations.
These feelings of failure and guilt were so strong with one client that Desyree decided to research with them where this idea came from. There is a famous JFK quote from one of his speeches that says, “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis'. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity.”
The client disagreed with this idea because their personal experience with crisis situations were all horrible. Crisis caused fear and anxiety, not opportunity. Desyree agreed.
Crisis isn't always good. Nor are we failures for being unable to see the opportunity in a crisis. It's okay to say, "This is really horrible." Or to grieve.
It turns out the client was onto something. Desyree and the client's research led them to the work of Prof. Victor Mair, a sinologist and Professor of Chinese at the University of Pennsylvania. According to Prof. Mair, there are indeed two Chinese characters used to define the term "crisis." The first character does mean "dangerous" or "precarious." However, as for the second term:
"The jī of wēijī, in fact, means something like “incipient moment; crucial point (when something begins or changes).” Thus, a wēijī is indeed a genuine crisis, a dangerous moment, a time when things start to go awry. A wēijī indicates a perilous situation when one should be especially wary. It is not a juncture when one goes looking for advantages and benefits. In a crisis, one wants above all to save one's skin and neck!"
See Weir, V.H. (last revised September 2009). danger plus opportunity ≠ crisis. How a misunderstanding about Chinese characters has led many astray. Online: http://www.pinyin.info/chinese/crisis.html
This means that following a crisis the person or organization may not be the same after the crisis as they were before. This may be due to the effect of the crisis itself, or by virtue of how the person chooses to respond to it. This divergence due to crisis may be profound and life-altering. Weir's translation affirms the real-world esperience of many of Desyree's clients. Often when we face a crisis, especially if the scope of the crisis is big enough, it does in fact equal what Whew! calls a Change Point, a "crucial point when something changes, a dangerous moment, a time when things can start to go awry."
The first step in dealing with a Change Point - and this applies to both individuals and organizations - is seeing it for what it truly is and being honest about it, especially to ourselves. The truth may be that there is the potential for adverse consequences, maybe major setbacks.
Opportunities may come later, after we've done the hard work of navigating that Change Point.