As he entered the lobby, Matteo waved to Louise, who stood and met him at the revolving door. He passed through it and she followed. As she emerged into the sun, he turned toward her and asked, "Usual loop?" She nodded. Their walks had become more frequent since the Conversion Tour began, and they'd settled into a routine.
Then she added, "But for variety, let's reverse direction." They did.
The Conversion Tour was a series of talks they'd been giving to the groups most affected by the new HR software. The tour hadn't been going well.
They turned the corner and headed for the garden behind Building 11. Matteo began, "I knew we'd meet resistance, but I thought we'd just talk them out of it."
Louise was more optimistic. "We will," she said. "We just need better arguments."
Sadly, even though rationality is important, it isn't enough. Emotions count. To facilitate change, you have to deal with three key questions.
- How did we come to be here?
- Usually, things are the way they are because something is keeping them there. If you've ever tried to keep a process in place you've probably witnessed "process drift." Uncontrolled processes gradually evolve.
- Stable processes are controlled processes. Before you try to change a stable process, understand what's been stabilizing it, because you'll probably have to deal with those forces as you deploy the new process.
- What's it like to be in this place?
- Before you try to
change a stable process,
understand what keeps
- Like most experiences, living in the status quo is both appealing and troubling. Often we learn to ignore what we don't like, or we make adjustments and allowances. We learn to live with discomfort.
- Reminding yourselves of what you find troublesome helps you leave it behind. But you probably don't want to leave all the good behind with it. Knowing what you like about the status quo helps you bring it along as you change to something new.
- Where would you like to go from here?
- If we want to make things better, it helps to know not only what we're looking for, and how we'd like to get there. Compare these two: (1) I want to meet the schedule by having enough people to do the work; and (2) I want to meet the schedule by having everyone work 70-hour weeks.
- In making a change, search for a path that supports whatever you like about what you have already. Recognize that it's OK to leave some things behind if you don't really need them.
Attachment to the status quo provides much of the energy for what we call resistance. Yet, it can also save us from ourselves. It reveals what's good about the present, and what we might need to bring with us on our journey to the future. Use it as a guide to help you find the right path. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Organizational Change:
- Conventional Foolishness
- Every specialization has a set of beliefs, often called "conventional wisdom." When these
beliefs are so obvious that they're unquestioned and even unnoticed, there's an opportunity to leap
ahead of the pack — by questioning the conventional wisdom.
- Letting Go of the Status Quo: the Debate
- Before we can change, we must want to change, or at least accept that we must change. And somewhere
in there, we must let go of some part of what is now in place — the status quo. In organizations,
the decision to let go involves debate.
- Good Change, Bad Change: I
- Change is all around. Some changes are welcome and some not, but when we distinguish good change from
bad, we often get it wrong. Why?
- The Restructuring-Fear Cycle: I
- When enterprises restructure, reorganize, downsize, outsource, spin off, relocate, lay off, or make
other adjustments, they usually focus on financial health. Often ignored is the fear these changes create
in the minds of employees. Sadly, that fear can lead to the need for further restructuring.
- Motivation and the Reification Error
- We commit the reification error when we assume, incorrectly, that we can treat abstract constructs as
if they were real objects. It's a common error when we try to motivate people.
See also Organizational Change for more related articles.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.
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