As I set out to write this blog, I showed the title to a couple of people wanting to get their reaction. Get it I did and it was quite the same … “you’re joking right?” Well I wasn’t, and yet, I did ask them why they presumed this was a joke? Here is the gist of what I was told:
‘In business and especially when change is being considered as desired or needed, the ‘right’ messages that are apparent include …
- Be a team player and respect the group/majority opinion
- Don’t make unnecessary waves for the sake of being different
- Be willing to accept the wisdom of the group and don’t argue for the sake of arguing
- Don’t be a hindrance to the progress we all want and need to make
‘We are being encouraged to go along with others so that we can move forward as expeditiously as we can. This title goes against conventional thinking.’
What this implies is that if someone represents a view that differs and one that they believe must be considered in order that we do ‘this’ the right way, they simply must let it be unspoken in the name of efficiency and best use of time. ‘Don’t make waves’ is the order of the day. The message doesn’t consider that the words of a dissenter might be the difference between desired and real success in moving the organization or project where it needs to go.
I recently read an article written by Peter Lawton entitled “Midday in Paris: Vive la Resistance au Changement!” (Long live the resistance to change). I want to summarize his writing because it represents a valuable ‘revised’ perspective. As a consultant working with business entities Lawtonn viewed his job as one that helped his client company push forward to bring about the changes they needed to make. His job was to “make sure that the employees that he worked with got on board with the required changes. Specifically, his mandate was to seek out change resisters and to overcome their resistance to change.
This he did with passion … until he had a personal experience that enabled him to see that resistance to change could be a good thing … and sometimes it is the right thing to do. He came to realize that his work required that he punish people for not accepting changes that his client organization wanted them to accept. Thus, the view was that such dissenters were a problem to be fixed. Suffice to say that he came to realize that resistance took bravery and courage as it’s easier to go along with a change and just comply. What he came to understand is that the term ‘resistance to change’ was a term defined by the person who wanted someone else to give up what was valuable to them and accept something that was valuable to the person spearheading the changing. It had nothing to do with the person being changed!
- We actively listened to the resisters among us and heard what they were saying?
- We worked to really understand why they are pushing back and why they saw themselves as victims of change rather than architects of it … as well as the importance of this distinction?
- We actually modified the project implementation process to accommodate these voices?
- We came to recognize and value such voices for the greater success they allow us to achieve because we incorporated these concerns into our project design and plan?
I see the message here as one that dares all of us to be a change resister to the extent that our questioning will lead the organization to change that is built on solid footing. Now perhaps we will all view the change resisters for the value they offer. We will see them for their courage and bravery in their willingness to buck the tide. Let’s see now … could that be you?