Organisational Change Management Volume 1

People are not Against Change, but the Way it is Handled

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"People do not resist change; people resist being changed"

Beckhard in Senge et al, 1999

The techniques of organisational transition are not inherently bad but cause problems if improperly applied. It is not the techniques that are responsible for the problems but rather the preceding "inattentiveness". This management style

"...alternates between short bouts of radical surgery and long doses of studied inattention..."

Doug Stace, 1996

Another way of stating this is that many senior managers appear to suffer from "attention-deficit disorder"

In many organisations there is a dance going on between executives who have a different vision of how to do things and those who want to hold on to rigid structures

If cost blow-outs, over-staffing and poor work rules are allowed to flourish, then corrective action will cause some unreasonable dislocation.

It is the level or rate of change that can throw us. Each generation complains about the rate of change. Recently the rate of change has been increasing exponentially, and we are having problems adjusting to it.

Human nature has the capacity over time to adjust to new and higher levels of change, ie each generation is able to assimilate a little more change than the last.

There is a natural human desire to know what the future holds, but the trouble is that we are not good at forecasting with any degree of accuracy. Most predictions are based on the forces that produce today, not those that will produced tomorrow. There are 2 problems with forecasting:

- everything is interrelated so that it is impossible to know enough to define the future with any degree of confidence;

- planning and forecasting creates a bandwagon effect that changes the conditions on which the forecasts were based anyway

Harnessing setbacks is a matter of re-contextualising failure: treating breakdowns as breakthroughs; seeing defeat as opportunity. But this requires considerably more self-discipline than most managers realise. Human beings are hard-wired to react adversely to mistakes by blaming themselves (guilt or shame), others (figure pointing), or bad luck (resignation and fatalism).

Many do not realise that change is a personal journey that requires developing meaningful relationships with other stakeholders. This necessitates the questioning of our beliefs and experience.


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