Resistance to change

The very idea of having a “change initiative” is slightly absurd. It implies that without some sort of large scale intervention change won’t happen. But change happens all the time. In fact, you can’t stop it! What we really want to do it’s to steer those changes.

I understand that there are large scale strategic changes of direction that organisations need to bring about but, setting this up as a massive thing invariably produces more resistance than achieving the desired effect.

By the time I left the BBC I was on my fifth Director-General and the last three had each had a massive change programme with snappy titles like “The Big Change”. Each time the chances of success diminished as we grew increasingly weary and cynical. In fact, given that I always saw the organisation as a complex living organism (organism and organisation even have the same root) it seemed obvious that if you tried sticking a sharp instrument into it the antibodies would kick in to repair the damage.

On the other hand if you truly got people to buy into the changes that you want to bring about, doing this by having authentic conversations with them about why the changes make sense, then they will willingly promulgate those ideas throughout their networks and do your work for you. Not only that but the changes will stick, they will work.

But this approach takes time and patience, characteristics in short supply in modern organisations. So instead we waste time, money and more important credibility by kicking off yet another pointless large scale initiative.

Always remember, real and lasting change always happens one person at a time and for their reasons – not yours.

2 thoughts on “Resistance to change

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