Change is Not Hard

I have officially grown tired of the excuse that change is hard. Change is not hard. And it’s not change that people resist in organizations. As long as we think that, we’ll never get better. Here’s what people resist:

  • Stupid ideas
  • Being told what to do
  • Things that produce results that run counter to their interests
  • People who don’t care about them.
  • Things that remind them of their powerlessness
  • Unnecessary extra work
True, when people develop deep habits, changing them can be a challenge. But that is a small piece of what we face when we’re changing things in organizations. Most of what we face is in those bullets above, so let’s figure out how to deal with that rather than lamenting about how hard change is. Solving problems is hard. Figuring out how to have an awesome workplace is hard. Life is hard. But not change.




  1. 24.04.2012 at 5:06 pm

    Good thoughts Jamie!

    Think they are parallel with this Inc. post that I saw today. 8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses.

    • 24.04.2012 at 5:32 pm

      Absolutely. That’s a great post. Thanks for the tip.

  2. Kyle Perry
    25.04.2012 at 8:32 am

    Well said!

    What about resisting the potential of loss (power, money, reputation, influence, etc.)?

    • 25.04.2012 at 9:35 am

      Amen, Kyle. I think loss is often the thread that connects our disparate reasons for resisting change.

  3. 25.04.2012 at 11:25 am

    In the words of a wise man I know, “I’m not convinced.” ;>) We agree that people don’t “hate” change nearly as much as we like to say. If we hated change that much, we still would be chiseling on stone (not digital) tablets and surely we would not be lining up every year to buy the next reasonably minor iteration of a device we already own. Change is a part of the human condition, and it drives our progress as a society.

    As you point out, what people do hate (and fear) is having change inflicted upon them, which explains why millions around the world reject modernity and embrace fundamentalism. But in our context, we cannot afford to ignore an inescapable reality: transforming an organization that is captive to deep-seated and outmoded beliefs about its reason for being is an extremely difficult proposition. Innovation, especially business model innovation, is disruptive because it challenges mental models with which we’ve grown comfortable over the years. Without question, part of that disruption is in how we respond to the stimulus itself, but in large measure it manifests through a profound impact on actual work. In my view, making that shift from the past to the future is hard right now, and it will continue to harder the longer we wait to make it.

    • 25.04.2012 at 11:38 am

      Wow, what jerk would give you a response like that?!

      I suspect we’re in “violent agreement” here. In the end, I get that change (particularly business model innovation and shifting from outdated beliefs) is hard work. My complaint is that when we focus too much on the change part, we often devolve into “change enforcement” crap. The hard work of business model innovation, to me, is the hard work of solving problems and creating awesome organizations. It’s definitely hard and lets focus on doing that hard work, rather than worrying about the change so much.