Saturday, August 23, 2008

Change Resistance

Many wise people have said many wise words about change resistance. Jack Welch, in his book Winning says "What you have heard about resistance to change is true." I prefer more what Michael T. Kanazawa says in his ChangeThis manifesto People Don’t Hate Change, They Hate How You’re Trying to Change Them:

If you believe that people hate change and that it is your job to change them, they will hate it.
If you believe that people thrive on change and that your job is to unleash it, you will tap into a limitless source of ingenuity, energy and drive that will allow you to consistently take your big ideas into big results.

Kanazawa mentions Apple, Google, Nintendo, Starbucks and IBM as examples of “companies [whose employees] have thrived on change, bringing out their best talents, creativity, ingenuity and determination.” He continues “Why can’t we all work in organizations like these? We can, if we focus on the right challenges.” Check his manifesto for his view of the challenges.

Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP, talks about the dynamics of fear and change – how “change has to have enough force and enough energy to overcome people's fears and to overcome the power of the status quo.”

INSEAD professors Stewart Black and Hal Gregersen believe "that an organisation changes only as fast and as far as the front-line individuals implementing that change. Therefore, they need to be considered first, in the change paradigm." You can find a 2 page introduction to their new book It Starts with One: Changing Individuals Changes Organizations, and a 25 minute video where they chat about change here.

John Spence mentions adapting to change as one of the foundations of Achieving Business Excellence. Jack Welchdoes the same by saying that "Change is absolutely critical part of business. You need to change, preferably before you have to." Apple got that right with iPod – Sony failed with Walkman... What happened to Sony? Last December Newsweek published an article about why they failed to change.

Leading change is a critical part of every leader's job. Leaders need to help everybody overcome their fears. Every successful company needs to change, and an organisation changes only as fast and as far as the front-line individuals implementing that change. At the end, it becomes a question of enough leadership to change the culture.

To the end, my favourite quote from Peter Drucker, from his article Management's New Role (HBR November 1969).

We will, therefore, increasingly have to learn to make existing organizations capable of rapid and continuing innovation.
How far we are from this is shown by the fact that management still worries about resistance to change.

Do you fear change?

Or are you driven by change?

Do you worry about change resistance?

Do you help others overcome their fear and resistance?

Is your organization capable of rapid and continuing innovation – or should you change?