– April 1, 2014
I have a client that is so entrenched in its way of doing things that a significant part of my job has been to manage change. Change is hard for everyone and how and when to change has been debated and discussed in companies since the first company was formed. What is never debated are some of the excuses used for not changing. People are resistant to change and despite the need to move forward people generally prefer to live with what they have. Fast Company put out a list of Reasons Why We Cannot Change and these are my favorite 15:
- We’ve never done it before
- We’ve been doing it this way for 25 years
- It won’t work in our company
- Why change — it’s working OK
- It needs further investigation
- It’s too much trouble to change
- Our company is different
- We don’t have the money
- We don’t have the personnel
- You can’t teach old dog new tricks
- It’s too radical a change
- I don’t like it
- You’re right, but….
- We’re not ready for it
- We’re doing all right as it is
“Men Plan, God Laughs”
This list was originally complied in 1959!!! by E.F. Borish a product manager for a Milwaukee company. Amazingly these excuses are as true today as they were over 50 year ago. So we plan to make change and address the list of excuses to help achieve a positive result. Regardless, in addressing these excuses it is important to accept that change is difficult and also understand that great strategic plans may still not yield desired results. Management must acknowledge during any change process that “culture eats strategy for breakfast” (a quote attributed to management guru Peter Drucker).
5 Changes To The Way We Change
To help address the culture and achieve success, Harvard Business Review’s Bill Taylor suggests changing the way to approach change in his article The More Things Change, the More Our Objections to Change Stay the Same.
Mr. Taylor continues asks – “so what have we learned in the twenty years since Fast Company was created, or the 54 years since E.F. Borisch compiled his list?” He suggests 5 possible principles to consider to change the way we make change:
- Originality – For leaders to see their organization and its problems as if they’ve never seen them before, and, with new eyes, they need to develop a distinctive point of view on how to solve them
- Break from the past without disavowing it – The most effective leaders…don’t turn their back on the past. They reinterpret what’s come before to develop a line of sight into what comes next.
- Encourage a sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo – persuade colleagues that business as usual is the ultimate risk, not a safe harbor from the storms of disruption
- Requires a sense of “humbition” (humility and ambition) among leaders – enough ambition to address big problems, enough humility to know you don’t have the answers. When it comes to change, nobody alone is as smart as everybody together.
- Be consistent in the approach – If, as a leader, you want to make deep-seated change, then your priorities and practices have to stay consistent in good times and bad times.
Change does not have to be a bad thing but managing the change process must be addressed. Strateigic plans must have an approach to dealing with change to achieve a measured success.