Our path to the present has seemed a steady march. Sure, we’ve taken detours and followed many courses. But from our factories to our business schools to Wall Street, the lessons are still loud and clear: a repeatable result, with minimal deviations, is the winning model.
It’s generally true in manufacturing, when you’re making widgets. And it can work if the past holds all the secrets to our future success. There’s comfort in the formula. Within the long-stable walls of the organizations and brands and empires we’ve erected, we know which bricks need replacing.
But turning away from the familiar introduces new variables. The old rules are often irrelevant. Think about IBM. Microsoft. Kodak. When it comes to our mental models, significant change is the enemy. In our high-stakes, increasingly connected world, the risk of embracing change, or even talking about it, can send shivers down the spine of any executive who is held accountable for results. And that’s pretty much all of them. Risk of gambling on the wrong future looks greater than the risk of taking small steps from a proven though imperfect past.
We talk often on the “how” of change. But so often we assume the “why” is a given .. and go on to assume we have the critical change mandate from the top.
Usually we don’t.
So amid the familiar chorus of embracing change for a sustainable future, it’s time to look at why that cry often falls on deaf ears. Let’s look at the brick wall of uncertainty facing the modern executive, and ask: Why do Leaders Resist Change?
Here are 4 questions to help us unpack the discussion:
- Q1. Executive psychology typically presumes the need to have all the answers; how can we help leaders rethink that?
- Q2. ‘Sense of urgency’ tops Kotter’s 8-step change agenda; must we wait for failure or concoct burning bridges to drive action?
- Q3. ‘Group think’ can be fatal at the board level; how can this be attacked?
- Q4. Organizational cultures can embrace or resist change, but the latter is most common; what cultural elements can drive adaptive behaviors?
Join us MONDAY 7/8 at 8pET for a discussion, the next in our 2013 series on collaborative leadership in the 21st Century. We’re unpacking the challenges one brick at a time ..
Hope to see you online .. or please, share your thoughts .. we’re hoping to extend the discussion blog-side (via comments, here), our G+ page and via twitter async ..
The @collabdna team
July 8th, 2013 at 7:02 pm
There are Physiological reasons we resist change not just Psychological.
July 8th, 2013 at 7:36 pm
Absolutely. Where would you put fear on the that spectrum? Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Just posted re: similar theme over on your blog; I really like your “valley of despair” model! http://d-scott-smith.com/2013/05/16/change-the-valley-of-despair
August 12th, 2013 at 12:10 am
[…] to Scott Smith for his comment last month in the post of leaders who resist change. It caught my attention, and inspired this […]