The Pierogi Perusal

My grandmother made a mean pierogi. Her best were the potato pierogies, slathered in butter and seasoned with dill. A pierogi is a semi-circular dumpling made from unleavened dough. Traditionally they are filled with potatoes, ground meat, or mushrooms and cabbage. If made as a dessert, they can be filled with different fruits and rolled in sugar instead of fried in butter.

Grandmother made and served her pierogies on Christmas Eve and Easter. Not only were they delicious, they were bound-up with what it means to celebrate family, holidays and holy days. To this day, pierogies are a big deal to me.

The Kansas City Star ran an article this morning titled: Pieroguys Pierogies brings an East Coast staple to KC. I was ecstatic–a locally made brand of pierogies was being launched at the very grocery store at which I shop! As I kept reading the article I came across this: “Pieroguys Pierogies makes them by hand with organic ingredients that include potatoes, cheese, broccoli, jalapenos, eggs and sauerkraut.” Jalapenos? Are they kidding? I could see my grandmother rolling over in her grave.

My reaction surprised me. As a person who teaches and facilitates creative thinking, I was shocked at my own failure to embrace this simple, rather novel, change to traditional fillings.

After spending too much of the morning thinking about all of this, here’s what I concluded. When teams are working to develop new ideas or when organizations are implementing change initiatives, it’s important to keep in mind that for many people the status quo is more than just the way things are. The status quo is the seedbed of their values and shapes the way they anticipate and experience life. It’s not easy to reshape or abandon that soil of meaning.

The truth is, however, the status quo needs reshaped. It needs re-tilled if we want positive alternatives to grow. Trying to keep everything as it is (or more accurately as it was) is not only impossible–it’s self-defeating. But that’s logic talking, not emotion. When we’re facilitating or leading change, we need to explain clearly why change is needed and what value that change will bring. We need to be patient and understanding with those who are, at least initially, reluctant to change.

But in the end, change (like jalapenos in pierogies) brings a little spice to life.

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