Change is not Hard. So Stop Saying it is.

There seems to be some general consensus in that change is hard, as if it's an undeniable truth. Is it really change that’s hard though? I think people just say 'change is hard' as an excuse. It seems to me that when things aren’t working, change is extremely easy.  As a matter of fact, sometimes people choose something worse just to get out of the current situation.

Think about how quickly fads spread, how much demand there is for a new iPhone, the lines at the latest fro-yo place, the latest workout craze, the hottest fashion.  I would personally love to get up every day, eat a different breakfast and have a different job. (This is why I’m a consultant) No, it’s not change that’s hard, we love change.  So why is organizational change so hard? And what can we do about it?

It’s not the change, it’s the threat.  Organizations that haven’t punished people for failure, and haven’t rewarded for perfection find change much easier.  Companies that have conditioned people to be afraid of failure, are also afraid of change. “Why would I change if it might cost me my job?”  And then to counterbalance this fear they tell their people “change or die”. Oh that’s much less scary, thanks.

They are not part of the change.  No one likes to feel like the rug is pulled out from under them.  When you blindside people with change and expect them to adapt quickly, they are not usually happy.  If you are transparent from the start about the goals and enroll them in how to implement the change needed to meet the goals, you’ve got a good shot at people being happy and excited about it.

It’s a conditioned behavior.  People are not naturally against change.  Do you think hunter-gatherers were afraid of change?  They were constantly moving and adapting. We have been conditioned by organizations to get attached to our routines and skills.  It’s more about unlearning than actually learning. Shed the false attachments.

People think the change is dumb.  That’s right.  The biggest reason that change is hard in organizations is that people think it’s dumb.  They feel that the people at the top have no idea what they’re doing and this change will run the company into the ground, and by resisting the change they are saving the company.  Seriously, go ask them.

What changes has your organization gone through?  How did you feel about it? Let us know!