How often have we heard the phrase, “we have always done it that way?” I expect possibly far too often when we are trying to be the agent of change. It is recognized by everyone that humans are creatures of habit and therefore we resist change at every opportunity.
It has been estimated that when change within an organization is implemented there is a 20-50-30 Rule that applies. There will be 20% of the people that will be “change friendly,” 50% of the people will be in a “neutral position,” or fence sitters, and 30% of the people will be “resisters.” So the secret to managing the change process is to follow what Casey Stengel once said about managing a baseball team which was “The secret to managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.”
Today, change in business is driven by three elements: people, technology, and information. The areas I see that have the greatest impact are technology and information. The rapid growth of information has allowed us to become a better informed nation and likewise our technology has allowed us to utilize the knowledge for improved living conditions and more modern conveniences.
With these two elements of change comes the necessity to utilize them to improve our processes and efficiencies. We have these capabilities, however we still see resistance to make the necessary changes because of the pain associated with the change. This is because of the people element and the tendency to follow “we have always done it that way.”
Our business has gone from helping people make copies to changing the way a company does business through software, document management and workflow. In the beginning there is initial buy-in, but soon a resistance to implement the process arises. In other words, it is often hard to get someone to pull the trigger on change. We see that there is a definite proven ROI in savings of time, filing space, cost control, and immediate access to information. So why is there such a strong resistance to pull the trigger? The only answer is the pain of change and the people element.
To accomplish the change you must designate a champion to manage the change process. That champion must make sure the people have the know-how needed, invest heavily in front end education, track and measure results, and even revise the reward system to make it attractive to change, but painful to stay the same. Giving people an active role in the change process will help with buy-in and eliminates any uncertainties. In the end the change process can be rewarding as well as refreshing in the organization. We all feel good when we live to tell how we changed “we have always done it that way.”
Meet real champions of change and learn how they were able to implement new technologies and manage the change process within their organizations.