White paper: Is Immunity to Change hardwired?

Change is the ONLY constant. Organizations hoping to succeed over the long term have to remake themselves into better competitors from time to time. The ensuing change efforts have many names: total quality management, re-engineering, rightsizing, restructuring, cultural change, and turnarounds, to name a few. In almost every case, the goal has been to cope with a new, more challenging market by changing the way business is conducted.

Unfortunately, most major change initiatives—whether intended to boost quality, improve culture, or reverse a corporate death spiral—generate only lukewarm results. Over 66% fail miserably.

Why do so many change initiatives fail? The single biggest challenge in the process is changing people’s behavior. And the central issue is never strategy, structure, culture, or systems, even though a lot of doomed effort is put into fixing these systems without necessarily addressing the behavioral underpinnings that will determine success or failure.

Why do people resist change? People typically avoid situations that upset order, threaten their self-interests, increase stress or involve risk. Most people prefer predictability and stability in both their personal and professional lives. When faced with changes to the status quo, people usually resist initially. The resistance continues and, in some cases increases, until they are able to recognize the benefits of change and perceive the gains to be worth more than the risk or threats to their self-interests.

But change is a paradox. What’s interesting is that people freely choose to make major life changes every day. We move, get married, start families, face challenges, learn new technologies, change jobs, and develop new skills. Not all of these changes are smooth. But most of the time we seek those changes ourselves and make them successfully.

So why are people willing to change in one situation and resistant in another? Because people don’t resist change, they resist being changed. In their personal lives people usually make their own choices. But in organizations they feel coerced. And so they use the only power they have to regain control: resistance.

To learn more, please download White Paper, Is Immunity to Change hardwired?