Organizational Change

Seth Godin has a good post up today that succinctly describes the barriers to change in an organization.

People who fear they will be hurt by a change speak up immediately, loudly and without regard for the odds or reality.

People who will benefit from a change don’t believe it (until it happens), so they sit quietly.

After working with dozens of organizations, I can tell you, this is absolutely true. It always bothered me though, that I couldn’t seem to figure out why people were acting this way. After years of thought, I came up with an answer that changed how I viewed organizations and how I did change work with people. I realized that to each side, their view of the organization was true. They worked so hard to keep their position on the matter because it was so true to them they knew it in their bones. Everyone did.

Only, they were wrong of course. I had the benefit of being able to see the world differently through all of the experiences I had. While they saw the world as flat and knew it to be true, I was able to see the world as round, as it truly is. Before I realized this, I spent a large amount of time trying to convince people that the world was round (they needed to change), but after realizing that I was fighting against “truth” I completely changed my strategy.

I no longer needed to convince them that they were wrong and I was right. All I had to do was change the conversations they were having with themselves and each other. Getting rid of fear for some and convincing others, once people got on the same page and realized they were all on the same team and were trying to get somewhere better, I could begin to lead them where they needed to go. It took significantly less time and actually stuck with organizations much better than I ever thought it would.

I had stumbled on how to really change people’s minds. All I had to do was change their moods, which changed their conversations, which changed their positions and knowledge on the organization, which led to the changes they needed in the first place. Go out and try it. You’ll be surprised how effective you can be.

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