Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Change is a comin'

Have you ever been a part of an organization that is resistant to change? As I am nearing my big 4-0 and get set in my ways, I have noticed that everyone is resistant to change. Human nature makes us comfortable with familiarity. As my priest states, “It is our default position.” However, I think that too many times we embrace this stance and it produces complacency. We do not change because it is easier to stay with the status quo.

Everyone does this. The challenge though is for an organization to be able to recognize that it is time for a change. At a recent yearly church fundraiser, I looked around at the things that my church was doing and discovered that it may be a time for change. I kept hearing, “Well this is because we always did it this way.” Or “We did it last year like this.” But what I saw really was not reaping benefits like it might have. We stick with the things that have worked in the past, but when times change, we do not. 

For change to take place, it is not just a matter of proposing the change and making it happen. But you also need to be able to get a buy-in from the same people that are resistant to change. In management terms, this is called Change Management. Change Management is the ability to introduce change and minimize the impact of that change on your people. In many circumstances, change needs to be evolutionary so slowly the transformation will occur.

If the people that have to adjust to the change are not willing to let it happen, two things will happen. Either that person will resent the change and do everything they can to sabotage it. Or they will disassociate themselves from the change, either by focusing on something else in the organization or leaving that organization. In the latter scenario, if you are associated in a business environment this could mean a person is going to quit. If it is in a volunteer or religious organization, you may never hear from that person again.

Change Management needs to be used effectively by every type of organization. For businesses to succeed it is imperative. In volunteer or religious organizations, it really is about helping to maintain your very existence. As I help with next year’s fundraiser event, I need to offer my suggestions and chip away at these suggestions of the next 12 months so when the program changes, resistance will be minimized. 

1 comment:

  1. Good thoughts Craig. I have been at this since the 70's (beginning as a lay person) and know that organizations come to change slowly. Unfortunately, many organizations do not have the luxury of time on their side to make change gradual. There is a tension between keeping those who are comfortable with the status quo on board while trying to move change with all deliberate speed to make the organization for stable and successful. When I worked at the Catholic Worker in New York I remember Dorothy Day said "We must build the new world order inside the other". I think of the Nautilus who has to build his new, bigger dwelling from inside his smaller one in order to move into the larger compartment and grow. There is a lesson in this sea creature's wisdom I think. Thanks for your words and vision!