Am I the only voice? ‘People are resistant to change’ is the silliest statement people can make. I have written about this in many places and expressed it in many speeches. But, how can I say this when we all see obvious cases of ‘resistance’?
The contentious side of the statement – and this is not just a semantic trick – is the ARE. The ‘are’ makes resistance an inevitable trait of the human race. Look around: rapid social change, generation change, fads and fashion change, moral changes, and, above all, biological changes from birth to death. Now, try again: ‘People are resistant to change’. Does it still feel right?
If anything, we ARE change. We are made of change; material, biological, psychological, spiritual. Our clay is as changeable as the weather, the seasons, the day and night cycle. We are of a highly adaptable nature. In fact our capacity to adapt as humans is incredible. We were born unfinished and imperfect for a reason, so that we can always change and adapt. We ARE the most changeable entity under the sun.
So let’s qualify: we may object to change, sure. When? When change is imposed on us without our having a sense of relative control or space for manoeuvring. When we don’t see the reason, the need. When we perceive change as a threat. When maintaining the status quo is rationally or emotionally preferred. When we feel cheated. When we are attacked and our defences may require stillness. Keep going. Find situations.
But if we look at those situations with objectivity, we will always find not so much natural resistance per se, but reasons where resistance sounds and feels preferable to change. We may or many not be right in our assessment, but that’s a different question.
The trouble with most ‘change management’ approaches is that they start from the premises that ‘people ARE resistant to change’. So when all you have in front is resistance, all your energy will go into overcoming that resistance. ‘Here is the mountain, guys; get into climbing mode’.
‘People ARE resistance to change’ is simply a bad start for anything that has to do with change or leadership.
So how about this: Change your default position as a leader. Start with: ‘People DON’T HAVE to resist to this change’. If they do, lets see why.
Now that’s a good start.