(Organizational) Change is Hard

I have been thinking a lot about the changes happening across my current organization, and the flexibility (and inflexibility) of people as they begin to realize that we are on an unalterable course with that change. I enjoy watching people — it goes back to my teenage years of sitting and watching the ebb and flow of crowds at the mall, watching how the people interacted, how they were not always self-aware of how their actions affected those around them. As I sat and reflected this morning, I connected this experience to my own team, my larger organization, and thought about how unaware far too many of us are to our impact to the whole system. To be honest, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my former educational goals, possibly heading back down the doctoral path and my planned focus on social informatics, or the study of how technology changes the way that we work, how we interact with others. Equal parts sociology, anthropology, and technology. Fascinating stuff, studying people. But I digress.

The thing about organizational change is that nobody seems to be "good" at it. And I think that’s OK. With so many moving parts, what does it mean to be "good" at change, anyway? To answer my own question, I think the secret is to at least try to be good at it; try to be flexible and understanding, try to understand that everyone comes to the table with different capabilities, different perspectives, and different tolerance levels for change. So when I came across David Weiss’ latest blog entry on change, I thought — wow, he captured it perfectly:

Change requires love, patience, help and encouragement, a willingness to learn from above, from below and from all those around you. It requires an absolute and deep conviction that you could really be wrong about something in a fundamental way. It requires a desire to improve and a motivation to exercise more effort than normal. It requires the courage to be wrong and fail again and again in the pursuit of new understanding. In the end, it often requires the willingness to forgo the due respect and esteem of others. Almost always it requires some kind of sacrifice. It is for all these reasons and many more, that change is hard. Thanks be to those who, despite all of this, do change. They make space for others to do the same.

Well stated. By the way, Dave, we miss you guys out here. Hope our paths cross again.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.