Seth Godin writes in a post titled, “Change and its constituents,” (subtitled: there are two and both are a problem) that people in an organization are broken up into two groups,
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.
And that’s why change in an organization is difficult.
Not surprisingly, a three line post is too simplistic.
Some people who fear or are hurt by the change do speak up, but they aren’t always resisting your change. Often, they are trying to tell you about obstacles that they honestly see from their perspective and you don’t from yours. The information they are trying to get to you can be very valuable. Listen to them.
Not everyone who benefits from the change sits silently, quietly waiting until it happens. Often, these people will get engaged with your change if you give them an opportunity. Invite them in.
Underneath all of Mr. Godin’s assessment of people and change is the notion that you are doing the change to them, creating some forcing function that will push them from their current happy (or unhappy) home and force them to move to somewhere else. Mr. Godin writes his post assuming, as I think most of the world assumes all the time, that people are trying to change in one way, by “driving people.” If you constrain yourself to that type of change, then Mr. Godin’s closer to the mark about how people would respond, but he’s still incomplete in his assessment when he leaves out entirely what happens when you “drive change” instead.
When you see someone driving change, you’d see a diverse array of people encountering the change and they are exhibiting a rainbow of behaviors relative to the change. Some will support the change. Some will fight it. All will have a good reason, from their perspective, for taking the action they are taking, even if that reason is irrational fear of what they don’t know and haven’t bothered to ask about.
The point of all this: Driving people is simple, easy categorized, and hopelessly ineffective (in this Mr. Godin and I completely agree).
Driving change allows an individual to bring to bear on implementing the change their unique perspective on the change , so it naturally draws out the hidden obstacles and finds quiet, waiting supporters.
Let’s drive change.
Who’s with me?