The Pain of Change

change management Navigating through the challenges of change has never been simple. The new reality is that you have to harness the energy of change. It is the new competitive weapon. It is how successful organizations respond to the changes in the marketplace.

The future is based on the present, not the past. Every change brings about tremendous opportunities. You can’t wait for change to be over. It will never be ‘over.’ We must find ways to thrive, not survive. We have to ensure that Shift Happens!

I was recently with some very large companies in a ‘think tank’ run by Gerald Haman. His company helps companies generate ideas. The representatives were all multi-national manufacturers of pharmaceutical, diagnostic, therapeutic, surgical and biotechnology products, personal hygiene as well as truck and automotive parts and heating/air conditioning manufacturers. Even though these companies were very diverse, they objected that their upper managers created resistance to changes in their organizations. For the attendees, it appeared painful. Frustrating. And challenging.

One of the executives said it would 2-3 years to push the next great idea through the channels before it reached the desk of the President. Another recanted how finding cost savings from vendors, that did not have current supply contracts, almost cost her job because it upset those that did not see the need to make any changes. Change is not easy.

We have to overcome
our resistance to change.

By resisting change we avoid success and often create pain. We have to feel the pain to gain. So the challenge is not if this pain occurs, but how you and your organization respond. From my perspective, the challenge, and in fact the opportunity, is how we all respond to the pain. I asked a corporate executive in the meeting if they would be doing what they were doing without the threat posed by competition. Each of them responded that the only way to remain a market leader was to create new products and services and remain innovative. They all wanted to innovate quicker, better and smarter. The problem was–they have tremendous difficulty getting management to accept any change.

This all points to the fact that when things are going well you have the resilience to deal with political, social, economic and personal concerns while keeping significant capacity to deal with change at work. When you have car trouble, a big credit card bill, a pet that needs to go for a walk or a litter box that must be cleaned, a parking ticket, a broken foot or a broken garage door opener, it’s not surprising that we resist change. Many of us are at over-capacity and resist change in attempt to spend as little energy as possible at work. Organizations must remember resistance comes from a person’s total life, not just work.

To make Shift Happen you must raise your resilience capacity. It’s like exercising. You need to make the effort to gain the results. No pain. No gain.

Personal change must be inside out,
while structural change is outside in.

Steven Covey once remarked to me that it is changing people from within that are the challenge that makes organizational change so difficult and painful. There is no such thing as organizational change without personal change. Organizational change means collective individual change. It’s the cultural change–the change of collective behavior of the individuals personally and interpersonally within the organization–which will ultimately sustain and make effective the structural change at all the organization and managerial levels.

Once we all realize that we can’t change other people we can start to create the beginnings of significant change within organizations. It’s it time to make Shift happen?

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