Why Organizational Change is so Hard
April 3, 2012 1 Comment
One of the things that has always fascinated me is why is organizational change so hard. Change can be one of the most difficult things any of us have to go through, whether it’s a personal change or organizational change. If I had to pick only one thing that I bring to any organization professionally it is change. I’m simply fascinated by metamorphosis, whether it is the ability to do more with less, or to maximize efficiency in order to perform at our peak and take best advantage of the resources at hand. Change is hard the world over, and there are I think, even greater cultural and environmental morae that make it more difficult in this region. Many Caribbean Tourist Boards say it’s better in the Caribbean, but this is one instance where it’s even harder.
A commonality among high achievers at least at the high school level is their surroundings, either their families or those they interact with every day are also high achievers. Not solely because they have the resources in order to pursue whatever their passions are and don’t perceive any financial constraints in that regard, but also because they don’t perceive any personal limitations either. The loftiest heights are easy for them to contemplate because they have seen the attainment of success first hand and not just by anyone, but by people that they interact with every day and experience their personal failings as well as their successes leveling the field of perception. But it goes beyond high schoolers, take the 2008 elections, one of the things that made it hard for some of us to believe that Barack Obama could be president was that it was unprecedented, so it was difficult for many to conceptualize. Similarly if I indicated that there was a bridge allowing you to drive from one Caribbean nation to another and that we were now all connected, you’d want proof wouldn’t you? Surely if it were true, you would have heard something about it. It is possible conversely, that it backfires, because you’ve seen so much success you’re hamstrung by fear. In general I have the most respect for those who uncover new ground, in any regard, they were able to see beyond what was before them. Thus the first person to envisage a career outside of what would be expected by their forefathers, or the family’s first college graduate for instance are the ultimate pioneers. I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by friends and colleagues of this ilk.
So how does all of this relate to organizational change in a Caribbean context? In the same way that North American companies have gone through a radical series of changes in their history, the Caribbean just hasn’t had as many examples. Companies seeking to reinvent themselves would have few examples on which to rely for guidance on what’s possible. Alternately we have the full spectrum of start up success ranging from the lackluster to the truly world scale companies that came to fruition on Caribbean soil. The one or two examples of businesses that either needed to transform themselves or did, have done so with varying degrees of success. As Caribbean business people, if you have not seen anyone one do it before you, then it’s difficult to have a template for success to follow.
My next task will be to find some regional examples of radical, or transformative change so that we can discover how the resistance to change was overcome in a Caribbean context.
Enjoy these articles and video on why change is hard
Why Change is Hard by Dan Heath http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpiDWeRN4UA
Cognitive Dissonance Why Change is Hard http://www.techguerilla.com/cognitive-dissonance-why-change-is-hard
Why Change is Hard http://www.innovationexcellence.com/blog/2010/12/21/why-change-is-hard/