Friday, August 31, 2007

Change or Die

The biggest challenge in change processes is changing the behaviour opf people, according to John Kotter. "The central issue is never strategy, structure, culture, or systems. The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people."

I found this quote in quite an interesting article with the provocative title Change or Die. The author, Alan Deutschman says that it is important to accept people's feelings. If people are confronted with the alternative of either changing or dying, many still wouldn't change. This is obvious when you look at people who do not change their behaviour while facing a terminal illness. But it is the same in companies.

Deutschmann refers to cognitive science and linguistics and the importance of reframing. He recommends that instead of confronting people with the negative consequences of not changing, it is often more condusive to show them the benefits of change, a mechanism that has been utilized by David Cooperrider when he developed the social technology of Appreciative Inquiry.

Reframing is not enough. In radical change programmes, people need multifaceted support, at different levels of the organization. "Even if change starts at the top, it can easily die somewhere in the middle."


Blog Oxide said...

Change dies when it's aimed to be overnight!

Elizabeth said...

I agree with this statement that people do not want to change their behavior when faced with new directions. I have seen too many managers, employees and co-workers refuse to change even when it meant they would benefit from the change.

I am taking a management course and I have also been a manager so I know change is inevitable if a person or business wants to succeed.

My question is why do so many people and businesses refuse to change their way of thinking, to embrace new technology or anything that will benefit them in the long run? Is it the fear of the unknown or have they just become too comfortable.

All I know is that it is interesting to note the people around me when changes are made to the business. They retreat into a shell and refuse to adapt. As a manager I presented new goals with enthusiasm and I presented the big picture to my employees. All I asked from them was a little time and effort to get used to the change.

Recently I had a co-worker who literally fell to the floor when our manager proposed a new change in our office. She refused to cooperate with the new changes and her productivity decreased over the next few months. I was baffled by her behavior because the changes were no big deal to me. These changes opened up new challenges for the department so I just did not understand why she felt personally attacked by the change.

Has anyone had a similar experience?

Thanks for letting me share.

Jim Burns said...

Change is really a step of faith. People don't really change until pain is associated with their behavior. Small changes work best like losing weight. I have to lose one pound before I can lose ten. Incremental change works in both directions for good and for bad. We have to be patient with ourselves and others.

for more about Jim

rrobson said...

The whole idea that something is either a benefit or a negative consequence of changing or not changing is entirely subjective and certainly not entirely rational. You have to understand what change means to someone from their perspective. Not "what's in it for me?" because, for example, their main concern might be "what's in it for them?".

We know that change can be threatening and people might rather hold on to the status quo, but equally, people are incredibly adaptable and we have to remember that. There is no truth that "people do not want to change". You simply have to find their buttons.

Reversal Theory provides a framework for understanding people's motivational and emotional responses to change. Apter International use this framework to help organisations to manage change more effectively by developing change capability.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jim Burns regarding Change being done best in small amounts, little steps towards the greater goal.
But i dont think that when people experience pain they will change. This is prooven by excessive eaters, knowing that overeating is not healthy, and can cause pain,even death, yet they carry on.

I think that in reality people need to have proof that something is better after changing. I think this can only be achieved by getting the "Quick" wins in first, which will prove a better way of doing something. After this is achieved move onto the larger changes, and eventually after a proven track record of SUCCESSFULL changes that create a desired outcome your Goal is reachable.

Anyone will follow a SUCCESSFULL Change Manager.

Joe Raasch said...

The "Change or Die" article is a wonderful way to show how hard it is for people to change. A statistic in the article says that, after surviving a heart attack, only 1 in 8 people make the changes needed to prevent another attack. When threatened with dying, only 1 in 8!! How are we to get people to change a process, a computer system, the brand of pen they use?

Change can be made easier (not easy) by making sure of the following:
1. Accountability - clear roles and goals for all.
2. Direction - tell employees where they need to go, but not how to get there.
3. Performance Culture - emphasize openness and trust.

Establishing these three things within your company could make it the last really hard change you experience.

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