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Friday, May 5, 2017

Lean Quote: Overcoming Resistance to Change

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"“In a fight between you and the world, bet on the world." — Franz Kafka

Some people cling desperately to the past. They hang on to what’s familiar, snuggling ever deeper into their comfortable routines to avoid the chilling thought that they might have to change. Someone said, “the organization is so screwed up that somebody doesn’t like it as it is.: Change always means giving up something, and the greater the personal sacrifice the more you feel like dragging your feet.

Another reason why people defend the old way of doing things is to maintain personal stability or feel more in control. They battle against change out of fear of the future, not because of love for the past. If uncertainty and ambiguity eat on your nerves, you can’t get very pumped up about “progress.” The more you dislike unpredictability, the more you’re likely to protect the status quo.

A third group of people resists change as a way of getting even. They play “punish the organization” in retaliation for changes they don’t like. We’re talking here about plain old revenge. And the fascinating thing is to watch how people are willing to damage themselves just to get back at the organization.

Finally, some change resisters are well-intentioned people who think they see their outfit about to make a mistake, and have the courage to try and stop it. They fight change because they (1) have the organization’s best interests at heart and (2) have enough nerve to take a stand. But frankly, these people with good intentions often happen to be wrong. In trying to save the organization they shoot it in the foot.

When an organization initiates changes – does it on purpose – you can bet there are compelling reasons. Almost always you can find a strong financial argument for what’s going on. Study the situation –
            Are outside events forcing the changes?
            Must the organization swallow some bitter medicine to stay alive?
            Will a tough exercise like this develop needed organizational muscle?

When the winds of change hit your organization, here’s the bottom line: Resisting does more harm than good. To begin with, you could get nailed for being oppositional – someone may accuse you of causing trouble, getting in the way of progress. That easily damages your career.

Second, resisting change takes effort, and you can find more productive ways to spend your energy.
Besides, you’re probably going to lose the battle anyway. Even if you do win a skirmish now and then, you’re going to lose the war.

Instead of trying to hang on to the past, grab hold of the future.

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous said...
    Hello Tim, on the issue of change and the resistance to change I find that people as a group do not reflexively resist change...although there are a few. Afterall people get married and have kids quite willingly and I can not think of too many things that cause personal change any more than those two. No, people resist "being changed"....especially "by others". I find that, in industry a full 90% of the resistance comes about because of poor change management. So much of what is called resistance to change would largely disappear if managers practiced good change management. As is often the case, the rank and file workers catch the brunt of the criticism for "resisting" when the real culprit is poor change execution by the management team.

    Lonnie Wilson
    May 5, 2017 at 9:21 AM