Why is Change Hard?

Consider how challenging it is to commit to changes within your own life. Now, imagine accomplishing that change across an organization made up of multiple people you don’t control. Each person’s motivations are comprised of experiences that frame their perspectives – none of which are identical.  You have to consider all of that, and move them in the same direction.

You cannot eliminate resistance to change. It’s organic, it’s human. But, you can mitigate it by committing to an intentional guided approach that incorporates elements of successful execution and sustainability. Let’s take a brief look at the basic tenets of an approach, common errors, and elements that increase the probability of a successful change.

Apply an intentional guided approach. A common error is to rely on organic change to yield results. Without a clear and intentional approach, you cannot steer or instill accountability for the desired results.

  • Assess the current state. Teams are often unwilling to map out their current state. It can feel like exposing your junk closet before moving to a new house. Doing this exercise haphazardly will always catch up to you at a pivotal point.  If you do not identify your starting point, then you will struggle to identify the path forward and demonstrate progress.
  • Paint a clear future state. In addition to ensuring that there is a vision, it needs to be understandable, actionable, and communicated broadly and frequently. Vision statements often suffer from being too vague or only numbers driven. Both result in a lack of understanding on how to act, or why it adds value.
  •  Create an action plan. This is where the rubber meets the road. How do you get there? A common mistake is to make the processes too complicated. Break down barriers to adoption by making the process and plan simpler.
  • Sustain the change. Will the impacts last? Do not just focus on the to-do list. Include value and motivational factors that incentivize desired behaviors, habits, and skills.

Incorporate elements of success. Each of these phases needs to incorporate the right elements for successful execution – this makes change even more challenging. The Boston Consulting Group uses ‘DICE’ (Duration, Integrity, Commitment, Effort) as indicators for likely success.  Ask yourself:

  • (Duration) Have I given this change enough time, and built in frequent milestones and assessments to adjust and stay on track?
  • (Integrity) Are my most valuable players my change champions? Do they have the right level of expertise, influence, and critical evaluation?
  • (Commitment) Are we committed from the top-down? Are my leaders visibly and frequently demonstrating their support? Am I engaging and listening to the people on the ground?
  • (Effort) Am I being honest about how much work this will take? Have I made sacrifices to make time or add resources?

Successfully executing change relies on cohesive and frequent commitment — commitment to the approach, and each element within it. Failure to commit at any point increases the challenge and reduces the chance of achieving desired results.

Melodie Tang is an experienced Change Management Consultant, and doer of things that need to get done. Get in touch for inquiries, coffee, or a lakeside jog by reaching out – melodie.tang@gmail.com.