Helping people to deal with change is one of the most challenging tasks that leaders of innovation face. GoInnovate!, an excellent new book by Andrew Papageorge, contains a wealth of advice that can help your organization to overcome resistance to change and to successfully implement a culture of innovation. In this short but very informative book, Andrew spends a considerable number of pages discussing the people side of innovation. In one particularly interesting passage, he explains why people tend to resist change, and what can be done to help them to understand the need for it:
Changing old habits: “It’s easy to think that if we just continue to do things as we have in the past, everything will work out okay as it has in the past. But this is unrealistic. The assumption that the world around us can change while we remain the same is dangerous and leads quickly to stagnation and obsolescence. Some people must be exhorted to accept that the status quo can no longer be honored in the new economy or in your organization.”
Lack of control: “The things we controlled in the past can never be brought back. The further behind we get, the more difficult it is to adapt to new demands and the less sense of control we will have. People must break with the past and work to manage the future.”
Feeling of loss: “Innovation usually involves restructuring, repositioning and potential loss of traditional status symbols and thus, self esteem. This makes it difficult for some people to remember that the purpose of innovation is to secure a viable future and that addressing and managing innovation allows us to remain competitive over the long term. People need to be reassured that while change is disruptive, it is nonetheless necessary.”
Insecurity: “Insecurity, perhaps the most threatening aspect of change, involves a range of feelings that can essentially be reduced to two questions… What will happen (and)… How will I cope? People do tend to change their perception of things when they are helped to understand and can accept them intellectually.”
This part of the book then goes on to explain how communication and education are key strategies to help your employees to understand the need for change and to accept and support it. If you want to read more about these principles, you can order GoInnovate! from Andrew Papageorge’s website for $21.95 plus shipping and handling(it doesn’t seem to be available from Amazon.com). Highly recommended!