There has been a few variations of this cartoon doing the Social News Feed circuit in recent times. I chose this version which has the comment about leading change.
WHY?For decades we have held the belief that an effective way to move an organisation through change is to either hire a specific Organisational Change skilled person or engage an organisational change consultant. The reaction of people in the cartoon reflects why consultants have been required as people run from the responsibility for change. WHY? A very generic and coarse analysis of this possible outcome is likely to be based on fear ie. the fear of being accountability for a process that is perceived as disruptive that might result in adverse outcomes - reputations are on the line. So the organisations choose to use a consultant and the blame (risk) for a less than favourable outcome can be shifted to the consultant. Then the organisation takes a very strange action they engage another consultant to fix what the last left by the previous consutlant, not realising that the true cause of not reaching the expectations they had set is internal execution - so the cycle begins.
"how much money and time have been poorly invested in organisational change?"
This is not a witch hunt of the organisation change professionals as their role was created as a result of organisations holding the belief that their leadership group was not capable of extending their thinking to navigate the (now) complicated processes that are presented to take organisations on a journey of change. The evolution of organisational change must have been required as there are numerous models and books written about how to manage this process - sometimes we create the need.
As a spectator of organisational behaviour I believe it is time to progress how you as an organisation can internally manage your change processes - it begins with a review of language and perceptions.
So, back to the title of this post - WHY is change a "dirty" word?Emotional response to change. This might be a "Captain Obvious" statement but I need it to set the context that is reflected in the cartoon above. It is our perception of people in society that we do not like change - that as a species we are anti-change. I think we would all agree that this has been said and heard before.
People like their comfort zones and things just the way they are - there is no reason to go upsetting things. So this is the knee jerk reaction to the literal meaning of the word 'change' that then evokes an emotional response of passion to "dig the heels in" ie. it goes from I don't do change to ... I DO NOT DO #&@^%# CHANGE.
"the tolerance of change can quickly escalate from I don't do change to ... I DO NOT DO #&@^%# CHANGE !!!"
Breaking it down a little further ......
The literal meaning of change means to make something different (not the same as it was) and when a person is very attached to the way it was asking them to change is likely to be confrontational in their perception. I believe that the confrontation is based on a person attempting to process what is was about the way it was that was so bad and why is there such a need for change. I believe this escalates to a level where the person is feeling that their previous efforts were wrong and we all appreciate that indicating to a person that they are wrong will not be well received. This sequence of thoughts is the key reason so many attempts at organisation change fail to be sustainable. People just don't like the word.
"could it be that simple ... change out the word change and people will participate"
Change has acquired this stigma and doesn't look like letting it go anytime soon. At a deeper level we are unable to understand what truly drives this behaviour and whether your reference is Maslows Hierarchy of Needs or Tony Robbin's 6 Human Needs that outcome is more or less the same. My preference is Robbins and his explanation of the need of certainty is very specific to how people react to change. I confidently predict that every person you have ever met who strongly opposes change has a high preference for certainty as a core need that drives their behaviour. So when change is presented to this person(s) they immediately feel that the future is uncertain and this unbalances their behaviour - their emotional response is unlikely to be well controlled.
Summarised Simple SolutionsUpdate your language and substitute the word "change" for "progress" and/or other variants of. I particularly chose progress as unconsciously and unknowingly you are progressing every day simply through the ageing process and through everything that impacts your life. You are making small changes consistently but as a result of the changes not being beamed into your mindsets as today's headline you are less aware of the progress you are making in life.
Progress is consistent with evolutionary theory as species make small adjustments (progress) to continue to survive in life. Even by reading this post to this point you are participating in progress in regard to your thinking ie. you are forming your opinion to agree, disagree or just be like, not bothered about the content of the post.
"progress is smaller and goes unnoticed by people ... develop your progress plan rather than your change strategy"
Build capacity inside your organisation to innovate and progress. It would be great to see the era of organisational change specialists come to an end - maybe it simply needs a re-purpose to assist with building the capacity internally to deliver highly effective progress plans. Using some of the skill set that will translate to create truly sustainable approaches ie. leaving the business in a state where it will organically generate progress without the need for a consultant to come back 12 months later and repeat the process.
To proceed any engagement of consultants to assist with the progress plan the organisation must go about readying the mindsets of the employees which is similar (but not the same) to the early stages of the Kotter Change Model to create a sense of urgency and bring the coalition of people together. There is a step before the Kotter Model Step 1 ie. preparing the leadership group to be attractive through updating their language and capability to create rapport that will quickly satisfy the core needs of people giving them certainty in a historical perceived uncertain time. In fact the goal is to make the leaders so attractive and trusted that they become very covert in their approach. They plant the seeds of progress and carefully using an updated language based on the 6 human needs (Tony Robbin's) and other rapport building skills and models they will fertilise the mindsets of their teams.
"The employee then feels progress just like they experiencing every other day"
Applying parts of the Modern Leader Pathway Program the mindsets of leaders would be prepared into the state of readiness to develop, own and lead the action of the progress plan. Every person has a capable mindset for progress and in the program participants will get to discover their own code to unlocking their version of the modern leader.
From Personal Growth Skpetic to Addict - share my jounrey through insight mindset perspective - the gift of wisdom I have become extrememyl grateful for.