A new post on Philip’s blog highlights one of the more cynical, and questionable, assumptions about organizational change: that people ‘hate’ change, and that a tiny elite of planners therefore has to impose it upon them. He writes:
It goes like this. You have an underperforming business. Profits are under pressure. Ah, the bean-counters say, some salaries are high and we have a lot of office space. If we reduce costs, we’ll restore margins! So they freeze or cut salaries and posts, and move to open-plan offices, hot-desking and the like. People will resist this, naturally. But people hate change! They tell themselves. So they impose change upon resistant people, and see if it works. If it fails, of course, they’ll blame the resistance, not the plan.
But the idea that people hate change is contradicted by every-day observations. We are actually relentlessly curious and impatient as a species. He adds:
So if a wage freeze prompts people to start leaving in droves, costs shoot up, because high turnover is expensive (and routinely not measured). Very probably customers depart also. If an open-plan office is inappropriate for the business, because a lot of confidential conversations are necessary (I’ve heard this comment twice in the past few weeks from people protesting at stupid change), then a lot of time is wasted looking for meeting rooms … What people hate is not change; it’s poorly thought-through accountancy-based reorganizations that damage the organization as well as our careers.
You can read the full blog here.