Monday, April 07, 2008

The Journey Through Change

Many times I see reluctance to accept change – including my own. I decided to summarise the typical story:

Stage One – Some research is done to indicate we need to change.

Stage Two – We rubbish the data and ask for more evidence of the need to change.

Stage Three – More evidence gathered which confirms the need to change.

Stage Four – We rubbish the data again but say that we are prepared to discuss it but make it clear we do not intend to change.

Stage Five – We reluctantly discuss proposed changes but remain unconvinced this is a positive way forward and complain that the old ways are better.

Stage Six – We gradually accept that changes may be required as we see others seemingly accepting the need for change.

Stage Seven – We get involved with others in implementing the change.

Stage Eight – We begin to see benefits in the new way.

Stage Nine – We start to promote the new way to others less happy with it.

Stage Ten – We become champions of the new way and start persuading others this is really the way forward (and, by the way, we supported it all along really)

Stage Eleven – Someone suggests changes to the new way.

We return to Stage Two …… and start again

Ok I accept that is very simplistic - what else would you expect from me?
However I honestly believe there is a lot of truth in this from my experience in management for over 3 decades so do you agree broadly this journey through change is fairly typical or am I way off mark?


spinhead said...

I tell myself I love change. Right up until someone suggests one. I'd say this is a fairly accurate scenario, whether it's personal or corporate.

I think this will get posted on my office wall to remind me not to allow my emotional investment to override an obviously needed change.

David Wike said...

Sounds vaguely familiar Trevor!

Often the problem is that those proposing (or mandating) the change do not communicate the benefits clearly. I have worked in an organisation that fluctuated between centralization and decentralization. I’m pretty sure that the words used to justify the regime change were more or less the same each time!

Sometimes change was as a result of blatant empire building or petty politics at a higher level. Down at the doing level, all we could look forwards to would be complete disruption for a couple of days while neither phones nor computers worked properly. Any wonder that there was a lack of enthusiasm occasionally?

So, if any of you out there are planning to change your organisation, be absolutely sure that you can really justify the changes and then communicate, communicate, communicate!

By the way, change is absolutely essential for continuing success, even if it is a nuisance. I even have a short speech prepared on the subject, and my fees are very reasonable!

David Wike said...

PS – I didn’t know that you had grown a beard Trevor!

Trevor Gay said...

Joel - It may have been Groucho Marx who said 'I once went to a 30 year school reunion and the only person who hadn't changed was me'

David - constant change is here to stay as my old boss used to say. Your fees are very reasonable I'm sure and good value I have no doubt whatsoever!

I shaved my beard off when I started to lose my memory.... Thanks for enquiring Cyril :-)

John O'Leary said...

Ah, the urge to be "right" is one of the most pernicious of human habits. When we're finally faced with the need to change our positions or beliefs we often delude ourselves in thinking that we knew all along the change was needed. I think most of the time we're sincere in our (mistaken) conviction that we knew all along.

Trevor Gay said...

I agree John - I think changing one's mind is a great thing .... it is surely a part of growing up .. probably why I have never quite grown up properly yet :-)

Mike Gardner said...

Great post Trevor. I included it (except the cartoon) in the documentation for an improvement project that will be resisted by some out of the fear of change. Hope you don't mind.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Mike - its an honour my friend -of course I don't mind - glad you liked it - let me now the feedback.

Richard Lipscombe said...

I am late to this party but here is my considered contribution to this 'change' thing....

Simplicity is the aim here - so there are just three things to do to enable and to sustain change. Yeah I do have a Simplicity model for change - it is indeed how I earn a living....

Clear, Hold, & Build. Clear out the old ideologies. Hold new ideas in a model - stress test these ideas via prototypes until they break. Build a new culture (ie the new ways we do things around here) based on successful prototypes.

Change is as simple as Clear, Hold, and Build.

Trevor Gay said...

I like it Richard

I am a huge fan of Walter Shewhart’s PDSA model (Plan Do Study Act) developed in 1930 – it’s all about simplicity and remains my bible in change management.

The 2008 Lipscombe ‘Clear Hold Build’ (CHB) has similar appeal I have to say!

Thanks as always Richard for your invaluable insights!