Changes - reasons or the opposite

Posted by Marcus Hammarberg on October 2, 2015
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This is just a short post on a (in the western world) well-known topic. I think I read it first in Switch

People doesn't oppose change. People opposed being changed

Or maybe with more details, if you make a change without a compelling reason for doing so the change management will be uphill from day one.

I’ve mostly been the changer in this, but recently I was the person being changed (the changee?) and I wanted to share my experience and thoughts. So that I, at least, never ever does this again.

This can be around any change, but for the sake of argument let’s say that I send an email to my staff like this:

Starting tomorrow; everyone has to be in the office 15 minutes earlier. We, the management, thinks that this will improve work around here.

Please note that the reasoning below has nothing to do with the actual change. For example, if you’re in IT - try this:

Team! Starting tomorrow we will have a daily stand-up around this board to discuss our work. See you at 0830

This immediately puts me off, of course. Can you tell why? Except the very short, summarized text.

Exactly - the first thing you ask is WHY?.

There’s no reason - just a decision. I’m just expected to get in line. This what you do to prisoner, kids (if you’re a bad parent) or animals maybe.

It’s sending a feeling of me being helpless. The decision is made. There’s no reason even for me to question it. I’m not at all engaged in this. Or I’m already against it.

Also - with no reason; how can I make you, the decision maker, happy? If I knew the reason maybe I can change my ways to better fulfill the goal. But now you give me no choice but to just follow orders.

Confession time - and conclusion

I’ve made decisions like that. Over the heads of people. With best intentions, but without a (well communicated, understood and compelling) reason.

I will never do that again. Because being in the receiving end of it is horrible, painful and makes me feel belittled and used.

What if … the opposite

My mind ran with a thought, that I’m going to leave you with. Above we saw two examples of decisions / changes without reason.

What if we tried the complete opposite: a reason but no change?

I’d like that much more, and I think it renders all the bad consequences above into their, opposites good ones.

That is of course much harder and requires trust, but let’s run with it.

What would the reason-no-decision be for:

Starting tomorrow; everyone has to be in the office 15 minutes earlier. We, the management, thinks that this will improve work around here.

Well… I don’t know, since there’s no reason stated in that. But it was just an example so let’s make one up.

We have a problem. We get complaints about you not showing up in office on time.
Any ideas on why that can be?
How would you like us to solve it?

And for the mandatory-daily-stand-up maybe we’ll go with something like:

I think we could benefit from knowing more what we're all doing in the team? Do you agree?
I have an idea on how to solve that, but I wanted to check in with you first. How can we share information about our work easier?

To be quite honest, the last one begs the question; Why would we benefit from that, but once you opened the Why-jar … “there’s Why’s all the way down”.

The first Why is the hardest to ask.



Published by Marcus Hammarberg on Last updated