I recently saw a Change Manager’s slide pack that he had used on a road show ‘selling the project’. The pack consisted of 58 slides of which 46 were about resistance to change! That it was natural; that it was expected; that they were prepared for it, etc. This Change Manager had just trained his organisation to resist the change that was coming.
But think back to how you adopted your mobile phone. Did you go through intensive training sessions? Did your ‘resistance to change’ have to be overcome? Or, did you see the benefits and value of owing a mobile phone and just get one? More probably the latter.
When I was making my first public speech in Australia I used the cliché “People resist change”. A man in the front row objected. (Just what you want on your speech debut!) He argued “People resist poorly thought through, poorly communicated, poorly managed, poorly implemented change.” And he is right. Unfortunately too much change is poor on at least one of these dimensions.
When we involve staff in radical change design they ‘own’ the results. They want the results. They can’t wait to make the changes to achieve the results. They can ‘sell’ and convince their peers. Even hardened union officials can see the value in the change and recommend it.
It’s not change that causes resistance, but how we do it. People want reasons, to see value in the new outcomes and be confident in the change process. If they can see real benefit from the changes and can see that they’ll be effectively implemented (and this part is important as they’ve all been burned by poorly implemented change that promised so much but delivered so little) they’ll support it. We’ve even had teams of people some of whom will lose their jobs as a result of the changes pushing for the changes to be implemented.
Resistance to change is created by poor change management practices. And, so long as we continue to see ‘change management’ as a subset of project management, this will continue.
When we recognise from day-1 that each project is a change project and think, plan and execute it as a change project using effective change planning and execution techniques (and the incumbent staff) we can achieve radical change quickly with minimal resistance.
© Jed Simms, Australia, 2009. Jed@valuedeliverymanagement.com
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For the previous article in this series visit The Self Evident Truths of Project Management: Truth # 8- "Resistance to change is created, not inevitable”.
For the first article in this series visit The Self Evident Truths of Project Management: Truth #1 - We do projects to realise the Associated benefits.
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