Why we need to change how we do change

Kieran Flanagan   @ThinkKieranF

Perhaps the most common response I get when I talk to people about how their organisational cultures are tracking is, “They’re a bit change fatigued.”

You may even be feeling a little of this yourself.

One of the root causes of this fatigue is not necessarily that the change in question isn’t positive, or that the underlying rationale for change isn’t understood or even considered critical to the team’s success. Rather, it has far more to do with how we do change.

What this means is, we need to make the process of positive change itself… positive.

Instead of seeing change as something that we thrust upon people with a little “motivational anaesthetic,” we would do better to design the process of change in a way that is intrinsically motivating.

So how might this be achieved.

  1. Broaden your perspective on change

There are 3 Spheres of Change. Firstly, what is changing. Secondly what needs changing. And lastly, what is unchanging. The problem is, we get caught up in a reactive cycle of simply focusing on the first sphere of change that we feel like it all lies beyond our control.

However, behavioural change is far more effective, long lasting and enjoyable when we also focus on the evergreen and familiar. In other words, it’s critical to also consider what is unchanging!

  1. Link it to the known

Metaphors are powerful precisely because they link the new to what is already known and understood.

In other words, while we may stumble over something that is completely new, we’re far more likely to feel comfortable with change that feels new-ish. It stretches us but also feels more recognisable.

  1. Show them that they’re not alone

Change is easy… you go first! Hardly a phrase that inspires confidence. However, demonstrating that change is also being navigated by our peers and colleagues and that we are not being used as a lone test pilot can make the process of change feel more social and increase our sense of safety.

  1. Create a bias towards success and away from failure

Rather than relying solely on motivation and discipline, a far more reliable and long lasting appraoch to change is one of design. In other words, when the system is designed to make success and competence easy, and failure more difficult, success and confidence tend to follow.

The truth is, change isn’t the issue - change is, in fact, a constant. However, to do change well, we need to change how we see change and make the process of change itself… positive.


Find out how Kieran can help you become a powerful presenter through her in-house team workshops on Change Strategy. Contact info@TheImpossibleInstitute.com or visit www.TheImpossibleInstitute.com


Kieran Flanagan is an author, speaker, trainer and social commentator. She helps leaders, teams and organisations “make change positive” through developing Forever Skills including: 

#Innovation - Creativity & Problem Solving

#Collaboration - Teamwork & Team Dynamics

#Inspiration - Engagement & Presentation Mastery

#Transformation - Change & Leadership