Monday, 15 October 2007

The answer to myth 3: People are resistant to change

After a little break from answering myths, today I return to the list of myths I told you about in my post on September 24th. Today, it's the turn of myth 3...

There is nothing in our biology that makes us resistant to change! We are not resistant to change. We are change! We change from babies to children, from children to teenagers and then on to adults. We change jobs, move to a new house, get married (or divorced)… Life is change! But we can act in defiance against things that can disturb our level of control over things. And this is a very different matter.

However, we know that resisting behaviours, which come in lots of forms and shapes, always mean something. We need to look beyond the ‘it is human nature’ parapet and see why things are happening that way. To assume there is resistance by default is not healthy… or natural.

Viral Change proves that behaviours that could be called resistant disappear when alternative behaviours are reinforced. In Viral Change, we make extra efforts to lead that assumption out the door and to suspend judgement. When people see the endorsement of peers, some behaviours-of-change in other parts of the organisation, the incipient tipping points… many resistances will unexpectedly disappear.

Viral Change also asks you to suspend judgement until you see how the infection spreads. Some notoriously resistant people - possibly labelled like that from the start (“Mary will never change”) - may become converted ambassadors, while some ‘safe people’ (“John and Peter are OK, they will jump in.”) might become difficult and truly ‘resistant’.

Next time, I’ll look at why many of you think that cultural change is a slow and painful long-term affair.

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