Change Is Good—Introduction

Change Is Good is a blog series in which Roger Kastner highlights the simplicity in the art of Organizational Change Management and strives to encourage readers to maximize Pareto’s Law when navigating through the complexity of human behavior.

A is for Ask | B is for Behavior

Slalom Consulting Roger Kastner

A Consultant Manager with Slalom Consulting, Roger works with clients and other consultants in the delivery of Organizational Effectiveness and Project Leadership services and helps practitioners achieve greater success than previously possible.

Change is good. It’s as simple as that.

I once heard a colleague say, “if change wasn’t good, we’d still be living in caves.” Makes sense, right?

Yet another common saying we’ve all heard is “change is hard.” And while there may be a lot of reasons for that, one major reason is that our brain is wired to resist change.

A recent study showed that our brains make three calculations in under a second whenever we are introduced to a new stimulus. Those three calculations are:

  1. Can it kill me?
  2. Can I procreate with it?
  3. Can I recognize it?

I’m no neuroscientist, but I’d imagine “Can I eat it?” has got to be the fourth question.

The first two speak to why fear and sex are always great motivators as evidenced by their being the overwhelming themes in political and beer ads. The third one, however, points to the brain’s reliance on the conditioned response function of the limbic system.

The limbic system handles our reactions to the “routine,” and thus allows the brain to conserve energy for fuel-intensive processing of new information, which occurs in the pre-frontal cortex. Evolution has taught our brains to love patterns and being able to categorize information, because we are then able to save energy for the critical things that either require difficult problem solving or physical responses, such as developing the Pythagorean theory or running away from wolves.

Change basically throws our brain onto the treadmill, and when was the last time you enjoyed that? So maybe change is hard.

It’s as simple as that.

Yet, living in houses, eradicating medieval diseases, and watching basic cable TV shows are all things from which we benefit greatly. So shouldn’t the brain have evolved by now to allow us to accept change more readily?

Maybe our brains are evolving to better accept change and we’re just a few generations away from that outcome. However, since you and I don’t have the luxury of waiting for that, what can we do to combat our colleagues’ biological resistance to change?

One solution: make change simpler to understand, easier to engage in, and in our best interest to adopt.

Is it as simple as that?

In my experience, I’ve witnessed some Change Management practitioners make change more difficult to adopt by employing methodologies that are more complicated than is necessary. Making things more complicated is rooted in ego. The premise is that if a professional is evaluated on developing something and wants to appear competent and complete, the tendency is to over do it.

We show our math. We add more bullet points to our PowerPoint slides. We use big words like “Pythagorean.” We over-explain. Why? Because we want to show we know our stuff.

However, we also see a lot of our own personal choices based on the elegance of simplicity. iPads, online bill pay, online pizza delivery, all are insanely great because of the simplicity.

If change comes down to personal choices, and we know intuitively that when making choices we prefer simpler ones and that our brains crave simplicity, then we should employ simplicity as a guiding principle in our Change Management initiatives.

And thus making change simpler is the basis of this blog series. I’ll share the ABCs of Change Management and show you new and different ways to incorporate simplicity into your adoption and engagement efforts. I hope you gain new ideas on how to achieve greater results in your Change initiatives by being more efficient and streamlined in your Change Management efforts.

It’s as simple as that.

About Roger Kastner
As a member of the Organizational Effectiveness practice at Slalom Consulting, I'm excited to share my perspectives and experiences with Change and Project Management to help clients and practitioners achieve their goals and objectives.

One Response to Change Is Good—Introduction

  1. Pingback: Change is Good: C is for Context « The Slalom Blog

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