Change Enforcement

There’s an article in the last issue of Association Management about curing “change-o-phobia.” I’ve seen lots of articles like this, all hailing from the land of “change management.” They all have decent things to say, like this one points out that for change to be effective, people must be dissatisfied with the status quo, they must have a clear picture of what will be better, and they must be able to take the first steps.

Fine. That’s all true, but this, like many change management articles, then talks about ways to “persuade” people to change. The change management paradigm asserts that management knows when to change, and that employees frustratingly resist their wisdom.

But before you figure out how best to move their cheese, consider this: people don’t usually resist changes that they identified themselves. Instead of spending your energy trying to make people change (I think change “management” is more aptly described as change “enforcement”), spend your energy getting them to think. Help them to be creative. Create an environment where they will openly share ideas (even across hierarchy levels or across departments). Encourage them to ask questions. You’ll end up with plenty of change, and a lot less resistance.