Driving change

N°279a – Synopsis (8p.) – Change Management
Driving change
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Among all the factors that contribute to the success or failure of transformation initiatives, the attitude of staff towards change is absolutely decisive. How can you convince them to engage in the effort towards transformation?

Instilling a culture of service, implementing new digital and robotic tools, adopting a more agile work organization… Companies must constantly change to remain competitive. But it has been observed repeatedly that successfully achieving transformation initiatives is a challenge. In most situations, the outcome is disappointing given the effort made.

The reasons behind these failures are varied: an ever more changeable economic environment that disrupts the best-laid plans, technologies that are difficult to master, and so on. But statements made by executives also point, repeatedly, to the human factor. The staff’s natural preference for the status quo and the inertia of organizations seem to be the main obstacles faced by those proposing change.

Indeed, changing habits is a behavior that does not come naturally to humans. Our cognitive functioning predisposes us to reproduce known patterns, even when they are not optimal. Furthermore, we struggle to anticipate an abstract, uncertain and potentially threatening future. Unconsciously, our present circumstance almost always seems preferable to us—with its well identified advantages and drawbacks. Constraints also arise at a collective level, which inevitably brings a certain degree of rigidity to organizations. Structures developed over time on subtle balances: official hierarchies as well as influence networks and informal information circuits. Change almost always involves a renegotiation of these balances and thus, friction. It is the sum of these personal and social biases that produces the famous “resistance to change”. This in turn translates into seemingly inexplicable slowness, into oppositions that are passive or active, hidden or ostensible, into deliberate sabotage or, more banally, into a return to the previous situation.

These reactions are deeply frustrating for transformation leaders, believing themselves to be working in the best interests of the organization. Ignoring these responses or forcing through them generally only aggravates the issues in play. We should instead integrate psychological and social mechanisms in our approach to change management and show diplomacy.

In this synopsis:
- Tactics for transforming without upsetting
- Overcoming inertia in the face of change
- Making an impact to instill a change dynamic

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