ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — February 2004

In This Issue

In the Spotlight
Get Your Money's Worth From Each Employee
Moving the Elephant
Dynamic Facilitation and Transformational Thinnking


AQP Connections
The Help Desk
News Bites
In a Nutshell
Resources for Success
February 2004 News For A Change — Home Page

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Why Change is Difficult
All we hear about these days is change—managing change, driving change, initiating change. We put ourselves and our organizations under incredible amounts of stress when attempting to drive change from the top.
It may be helpful, however, to take a step back and look at two of the reasons why change is difficult: people are familiar with the old ways and people are comfortable with keeping them that way.

Let’s look at the first case: familiarity with the status quo. Think back over the last year, the last month, or possibly even the last week and see if something similar to this situation has happened to you.

You’re heading home from work. Your spouse calls to remind you to pick up a movie on the way. You get into the car and the next thing you know, you’re pulling into the driveway. You have absolutely no recollection of how many stop signs you ran or how many stray cats you hit, but somehow you arrive home just in time to be scolded because you forgot to pick up the movie!

Just as you and your car are intimately familiar with the route from work to home, the people in your organization are familiar with the current processes and methods for accomplishing their work. Any attempt at change must take this into consideration and make the transition as easy and as sensible as possible.

Now let’s look at the second case: people are comfortable with the status quo. Try this example. Fold your arms across your chest. No, really—stop reading for a minute and cross your arms. Great! Now unfold them and cross them with the opposite hand on top. Some of you may have difficulty actually doing this. How does it feel? Strange? Unusual? Uncomfortable?
Remember, in this situation we’re not talking about changing the complex behaviors and processes of an organization. Yet, notice how awkward it feels to simply fold your arms in a different direction. And note that as soon as possible you’ll have them back in the position that feels most comfortable.

When attempting to initiate change in your organization, it is important to consider the process you’ll take when implementing the change. To really enhance your chances for success, you also must also address the personal side of change. Recognize that organizations are collections of individuals, and individuals are generally reluctant to change unless there is a strong compelling reason to do so.

Make sure that your change initiative has a clear objective and communicate it to your people in a way that makes the benefits clear. Change is much easier when you have a group of allies supporting the effort rather than a group of adversaries fighting to maintain the status quo.

A nationally recognized customer service expert, author, and trainer, RON ROSENBERG, CSP, recently founded, a Web site dedicated to helping people get the service they deserve and to teaching companies how to provide it. He has been featured in publications including The New York Times, Smart Money, and Real Simple and has appeared as a guest on nationally syndicated radio shows including “Dateline Washington” and the “Gary Nolan Show.” For more information, visit his Web site at .

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