There is the famous apocryphal chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times” which suggests that change is both interesting and a challenge. As people, we wrestle with change; we are excited by the prospect of things changing for the better (as sung by Bob Dylan and Sheryl Crow) and yet terrified of the negative consequences that change might bring; feeling out of control and not able to cope with the change.
The same applies in organisations; yet it is the change of the collective. How do we keep evolving and changing which is necessary for survival and growth and still manage the fear of change?
CHANGE IS THE LAW OF LIFE. AND THOSE WHO LOOK ONLY TO THE PAST OR PRESENT ARE CERTAIN TO MISS THE FUTURE.
CHANGE AGILE / CHANGE FRAGILE
I once worked in an organisation where there was a change in the colour of the payslips; if I remember correctly, it went from green to purple. For context, this organisation was one of regular change. Nothing ever seemed to stay still. Yet, when this change was made, a long standing member of staff came to ask, “why did we change the colour?”. After a number of back and forth comments, the real question emerged, “what was wrong with the last colour” and “why did it need to change?”
The answer was there was no need or requirement to change; but it was a natural change. The positive outcome was that the staff seemed to actually look at their payslips again. This story highlights the fact that the idea of change is complex, here was someone who was used to change but found certainty in the consistency of certain things, such as the colour of their payslips.
I often define people on the principle of “change fragile” or “change agile”. Some individuals respond to change with a welcome enthusiasm and others run as fast as they can.
How can we create organisations that are ‘change agile’ and not ‘change fragile’? Well, as always, it starts with the people.
This was published in (www.cedar.consulting/blog/2015/5/4/the-challenge-of-change). The rest of this series will explore the area of change and how organisations can facilitate and adapt to the changing world. Subscribe to the Cedar Consulting blog to follow our perspective on change and feel free to post comments and thoughts.