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RESISTING CHANGE

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 7, 2013

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Who is defending the status quo in your business? Are they right?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
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I have been fortunate to have visited a lot of companies in my lifetime as a consultant. I have also participated in several nonprofit groups, many of which are well established and steep in customs and tradition. Interestingly, a lot of these organizations operate on autopilot when it comes to executing procedures. So much so that whenever someone suggests something new as a means of expediting a process it is often greeted as if it were heresy. After all, “That is the way it has always been done.” I’m sure we have all heard this on more than one occasion and is the earmark of a bureaucracy.

What I find interesting is when you run into a situation where people have been doing things wrong for so long, they think it is right. Actually, such situations evolve slowly over time as people are replaced by new workers who are not properly trained or are less skilled than their predecessors. Consequently, small changes creep into the process which corrupts it. Nonetheless, over time it becomes a natural part of the process and is deemed as proper. If left unchallenged, these processing anomalies become a part of the standard operating procedure, which even though they are being performed erroneously, people tend to steadfastly defend.

Challenging the status quo is a daunting task. As Voltaire astutely observed, “It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” Even if you have identified a problem with an existing process or can recommend an improved way for performing it, you will inevitably have to contend with the wrath of the defenders of the status quo who will resist any change whatsoever. As creatures of habit, there are a lot of people who do not embrace change easily and treat it suspiciously. Some will even go so far as to politically sabotage any hint of change.

As we all know, change simply for the sake of change is madness, but we certainly would not make any progress if we didn’t periodically challenge the status quo. Change is a natural part of life which I believe many resist unnaturally. Using the standard cop-out, “That is the way it has always been done,” is simply a lame excuse to preserve the current system. It should therefore come as no surprise to see a lot of organizations suffering from dry rot in their operations, thereby affecting their ability to compete or serve their customers adequately. Even though people tend to be inflexible in terms of addressing change, we must all face the reality that if there is anything constant in life, it is change.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  BEWARE OF OFFICE POLITICS – There’s no avoiding it, regardless of the type or size of company.

LAST TIME:  HOW DID OUR MORAL VALUES CHANGE? – Was there an epoch event that caused us to change? Actually, Yes, I believe so.

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3 Responses to “RESISTING CHANGE”

  1. Alton Walston said

    Hi Tim Something you did not address in this article is why people are opposed to change. I totally agree with your article. Some of the reasons that folks oppose change are truly valid. For instance, lets say the engineering staff decides there is a change that needs to be done in a production process. And they institute this change with out consulting the folks on the production line. While I do value good engineering skills, the thought that changing anything with out consulting all the folks involved, it totally absurd. Engineers as a rule understand process to a point but if they are not actually “hands on” The is a lot that escape their view. Then you have folks for which change is hardship. Example a line employee that has learned a process and is adept at this process, It involves a certain knowledge which has been learned over time. The new change involves a new knowledge for which the employee is not mentally equipped to handle. And many more reasons. All can be dealt with if properly managed. But the key to initiating resistance to change is to first understand the reasons for the opposition. Then understanding what must be done to overcome the fears and capacities of those to who the change has effected. Business schools and most consultants to not teach to make change effective, you must first have the people at heart. You must truly care about the folks for whom new changes are being made. Cold hearted business never last long. But as you say change is inevitable for progress to be made. (unless you are talking to my wife) Regards ole Blake

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  2. sirchristiantheheck@reagan.com said

    You couldn’t be more “Right On” than that.However, not very many people under age 55 can comprehend. We are D O O M E D !!!

    Like

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