Failed change is more common than successful change in people and in organizations. Change is hard to initiate and even harder to finish. Why? Change myths are part of the reason.
Myth #1: People and organizations change when they need to. Really? Why are so many people overweight? I need to lose about ten pounds. I’ve needed to for a long time. But I haven’t made the changes necessary to lose it. Some people need to stop piling up debt—but they don’t. Organizations have a lot of changes they need to make. But for whatever reason, they don’t get around to it, or when they try, it fizzles out. It takes a lot more than need to drive successful change.
Myth #2: People and organizations change when they want to. Not only do I need to lose those ten pounds, but I want to. Enough said?
Myth #3: Fear is an effective means of promoting change. “If you don’t….., you’ll be fired.” What a waste of time. Any change that arises from fear will be short-lived and marginal. It is a sign that bosses and bullies are in charge, not authentic leaders.
Myth #4: A PowerPoint presentation which fully explains the reason will successfully drive change. “If they understand, they’ll be eager to change.” Baloney. Somebody else will be giving reasons for not changing. And what about all the right brain artists out there? They hate PowerPoint presentations.
Myth #5: Casting vision over and over will bring change. This is just hubris on the part of the leader—believing that people will do whatever he/she asks them to do. People and organizations do not change because of somebody else’s vision.
So what will initiate and sustain change? Two things: people and organizations attempt change when they have to, or when they are inspired to. The leader’s job is to inspire it before the “have to” kicks in. Think about it.
It is easier to get married than to stay married. And it is easier to start change than it is to complete it. The leader’s biggest challenge is between the starting point and the finish line. We’ll talk about the entire change journey at the November 5 Hard Lessons Workshop in the AVOIDING CHANGE WRECK session. Register on the home page!
"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner