I have been reading a lot around the subject of change management. Almost every model, approach , paradigm starts with the basic assumption that ‘people don’t like change‘. I for one don’t completely agree with that basic assumption and I am dedicating this post to explaining why. I think people don’t hate change, they just hate badly executed changes.
Here is my fundamental question
‘If people queue up to buy the latest phone, why don’t they queue up to benefit from the changes that organisations launch’
Surely buying a phone is a big change. New phone means new accessories, new features, new chargers plus the effort to get your head around all of that. That is a lot of change and a lot of effort. Why don’t people hate that? Why don’t people resist that change?
Now replace ‘phone’ in the above situation with ‘house’, ‘car’ or anything else and the same can be argued. In these scenarios people seem to enjoy the change and in fact look forward to the change. Why then the same people resist change when it comes to their professional life?
let’s take the same phone and think about a OS upgrade. I bet lot of us have hate those. On the face of it, these upgrades are supposed to make our phones perform better but they rarely do to begin with. Many a times we are not aware of the potential problems and there are times when we regret the day we decided to upgrade the OS. New Phone and New OS are both essentially change but I am sure while most of us love the former and we dread the later. I wonder why is that. Now if you had bought a new Samsung Note 7, then it is possible that next time you will be less excited about even a new phone. Guess that tells us something – People don’t hate change they just hate badly executed change.
Let me say that again ‘people don’t really hate change’. They in fact love change when it comes in the right proportion, at the right time and in the right way. If I can walk up to my employees and offer them something that they know will make their life better, I don’t think they will hate the change. The problem is that employees are never presented change in a way that they can embrace and enjoy.
Most change management projects start with the grim view of employees i .e. they don’t like change and more often than not it is downhill from there. Instead of looking at how we can present the change differently, we curse and moan about the users. Many a times we conclude that employees are the biggest problem and for better part of the project we try to solve that problem.
Here is a different way of approaching this
Let’s start with a different assumption – ‘People love change’. If a proposed change is not working then the issue if with the change and not with people. This will make you approach the problem in a different way. You will try to create a change package that is of the right proportion, at the right time and the right way. You will keep trying till you are able to excite your users about the change. You will aim for the day when people will fight with each other to be the first recipient of the change you are offering. I am not saying that you can make every change exciting. There are changes which will never fall in this category but most can.
We need changes to be like a new phone (not note 7 🙂 ) and not like the new OS 🙂