It’s not true that people hate change. (Ask any lotto winner!) What human beings hate is punishment – it is especially tortuous when seen as undeserved, unwarranted and unnecessary. Most managers of change are not ready to concede that they could be instruments of torture but it’s all in the eye of the beholder and perception is reality.
For many (even most), the reality is that change is unrelenting, exhausting, awful and inflicted on them by others. For organisations, change invariably fails. (“The brutal fact is that about 70% of all change initiatives fail.” Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2000/05/cracking-the-code-of-change/ar/1)
‘Management of change’ is of course an oxymoron. All change is social – change must be led and leadership is often missing from change projects.
Acknowledging the start point means you can improve the odds:
- Most organisations are set up along party lines – divide and rule rather than mobilize and unite. The result is them/us, powerful/powerless, persecutor/victim
- Few people believe they are the masters of their own destiny – no one has seriously challenged the view that they are victims of others’ decisions
- The normal human brain reacts to this vulnerability in a primal fight-or-flight, attack-before- you’re-attacked response. Mistrust, suspicion, deception and embedded resistance builds. A fog of emotional and social turmoil makes steering a successful course difficult if not impossible, no matter how slick the roadshow. All too often, the change vehicle shudders to a grinding halt, even rolling backwards.
A positive start point is where people feel involved, consulted (as subject experts not patronized) and treated like what they actually are – partners in success (or otherwise). With this as your start point, people are agile, creative beings who dig deep and go to extraordinary lengths to make every endeavour work, no matter what the challenges.
If you have never seen people at their best, it’s time to cut through to the REAL power in the organisation to fuel your change initiative. A Change project of any kind is a great opportunity to unite the will and mobilize capability…….full throttle ahead.
When reputations are on the line and promises must be kept to project funders:
- Accept that all change is social – successful change is led (not task-managed)
- Get ahead of the need for change – transition to a change-ready state and stay there (Ready for tomorrow, today)
- Charge everyone with responsibility for continuous change – doing more with less, with fresh thinking
- Manage in real time with each person and unit kept in touch with how they are performing and what to change with what effect
- Get ahead of the social collaboration curve. Check out the Spotify culture video(s) https://labs.spotify.com/2014/03/27/spotify-engineering-culture-part-1/
For an afternoon of inspiration and ideas, join like-minded project sponsors at a ‘masterclass’ to explore, debate and develop proven strategies to get cut-through with your change initiative. Wellington 19 August and Auckland 3 September – 2pm-6pm (More information at +64 21 923 318)