Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Facebook’s New Timeline and Dealing With Change


Facebook will soon start requiring people to switch to a new profile format known as Timeline. Timeline is essentially a scrapbook of your whole life on Facebook. It's the most radical change in the history of the site. This news has been greeted with intense emotion in the blogosphere.

Changing the place we call home resonates deeply. Timeline makes us uneasy because we will now be doing openly what we have always done unconsciously. Living in the moment, we do not have the perspective that Timeline offers.

I for one am not too excited about this change. Even as a change agent I am not prepared for the inevitable. This has forced me to think about how we deal with change.

Change is one of the most difficult things for humans to readily accept. Anyone who has worked in or led an organization's transformation understands change is not easy. We are so ingrained in the way that we do things that to do it a new way, or to stop doing something causes us to feel uncomfortable. We equate uncomfortable with wrong, instead of different, and there's a tendency to go back to what was comfortable.

People tend to resist change naturally. There are four common reasons people resist change:

It's unknown –One of life's greatest fears is the unknown. It causes us to resist those things for which we cannot easily discern an outcome.

It's challenging – Change stretches us out of our comfort zone. Some of us like to be stretched more than other people do.

It's uncertain – When we change, we are often introducing untested waters. We prefer certainty.

It's unpopular – The resistance to change is universal. Change invites animosity and tension.

However, our fears of change can be managed with the following suggestions:

Suggestion 1: Keep people informed. Communicate as much as you know about what is happening as a result of the change. One of the major reasons people resist change is fear of the unknown. If you communicate and keep them informed, you put this fear to rest.

Suggestion 2: Answer the "What's in it for Me?" question. This suggestion is similar to Suggestion 1. Generally people will accept change when they see a personal benefit. . Assist people in identifying what the change will do for them.

Suggestion 3: Empower people to become part of the change. There are several reasons people resist change, one of which is fear. Help people identify how the change will influence them, benefit them, and improve their present situations.

Suggestion 4: Help people assimilate to the change. Once people begin to experience change, help them assimilate to it by reinforcing the personal benefits they're gaining.

All new things stir emotion, as the most adventurous of us hold tightly to our moorings. While we wait to see how significant the impact of Timeline really is, we are wondering what to hope for. In a time of anxiety, it can be comforting to survey the impact of small changes. One thing, for sure, that is contributing to our unease about Timeline: it would have been nice to be asked.


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