Monthly Archives: April 2011

Change Is Hard–Even When You Embrace It

Have you ever been struck by a sudden bolt of insight that rearranging what’s stored where in the kitchen cupboards would better serve the way you actually use the kitchen? So you get out the step stool and started to pull things down, which leads to the realization that the cupboards need to be cleaned.

There are two main options at this point: put stuff back where it was since this is a larger job than you thought, or embrace the process and forge ahead because you anticipate the improved outcome being worth the hassle.

Even for those of us who opt to forge ahead, we’ll still find ourselves having to adjust to things being in new places. No matter how much better the new system, one that we came up with on our own, will function, we still struggle to unlearn old habits.

So if change is this hard when it’s our own idea, is it any wonder that most of us resist change in our organizations when the change wasn’t of our making and where our input may not have been considered?

Keep this in mind when you’re working to implement a change in a process or structure. No matter how beneficial the new arrangement may be, you’re still asking folks to give up something their comfortable with. Even if the current process is something they complain about, your colleagues at least know how to work the process. This gives them an experience of competence.

Change means giving up some of that competence so it brings on insecurity. To help the people around you move past the resistance they may have to a change, acknowledge what they’re giving up and make sure they’ll have the tools and resources they’ll need to become competent in the new system.

And be patient. Even if the mixer is now in the cupboard directly in front of where you’re standing, you’re still likely to go try to retrieve if from it’s old, inconvenient location multiple times before the benefits of the new arrangement work their way into your muscle memory.

What helps you embrace change?

What Bureaucracies Do Right

Last year Professor Leisha Dehart Davis was interviewed by KU’s University Relations team about her research on bureaucracy and making good organizational rules. She calls this line of her research “green tape theory.” Once you hear it, it makes perfect sense–rather than struggling to define and overcome red tape, why don’t we define what works to make public sector organizations function well?