There are plenty of change theories out there. There is some truth to all of them, yet, by themselves, they incorrect and incomplete. Some believe that people resist change, and I’ve proven in my workshops that people don’t resist change. People experience a wide range of emotions and reactions from joy, exhilaration, and elated-ness to anger, frustration, and uneasiness.
What I’ve described are the two foundations of change facilitation. Process and people. There is no perfect, standardized process that can account for the variation in how people react to change, but we sure try don’t we?
When we are brought in to help change something, the people who bring us in want some level of certainty. Hence the linear models, and best practice thinking that is common in the change management world. Our plan looks great on paper, but as soon as we’re done writing the plan, we’re already off the rails.
It’s not the plan that they want, and we know our plan is filled with assumptions. The people bringing us in to help change something, and we, the change people are wanting the feeling of certainty that we’re doing the right thing.
Am I Doing The Right Thing?
There’s only one way to know if we’re doing the right thing. Involve the people who will live with the consequences of the change into the design of the change. I remember working in an organization where we held daily standup meetings 3 times per week. 25 – 35 people would gather and talk about project risks. After a period of time, this standup seemed like it needed to change…from my perspective.
I posted a big flipchart on the wall and wrote the question: “how is this standup working for you?” and drew a line horizontally across the paper. On the left side, I wrote “It’s just fine”, and on the right side I wrote; “it’s horrible”. I wrote instructions to tell everyone to put an “X” somewhere on the continuum to show their opinion. Once enough people had placed their “X”, we’d have a quick retrospective to figure out how to improve it.
2 people voted after a week.
So I dropped it. Clearly there wasn’t a problem, otherwise, people would have voted, or the topic would have surfaced at the meeting itself.
Challenge of Being a Change Agent
Written by: Jason Little