Change is the only constant in life is an accepted fact. However, the irony is that every change faces maximum resistance from the stakeholders before it is fully implemented.
In my 30 years plus of professional career I have learnt that people could be classified into four categories with reference to the response they give to change.
First category are the people who will do anything to oppose the change and got to any extent to sabotage the implementation. They are diehard fans of the status quo. For them, any tinkering with the established system will lead to its total collapse.
The second category consists of people who understand the need but are not too confident in implementing the change in their lifetime. They will support the change in every discussion forum but will not initiate any action for its practical application.
The third category are those who will not oppose the proposals for change in public. They keep the feelings inside the mind and the day they occupy a position of power they change back to the status quo anti.
The fourth is the minority category consisting of people who understand the need and want the change for the overall betterment of the organisation.
Why is a change resisted?
The first reason is our beliefs. We have strong belief systems which we have persisted with since ages. We are used to doing things in a particular way. The mind and body both resists moving out of the comfort zones. At times it is the disconnect between the body and mind which is responsible for the resistance. The mind is willing to accept but the body refuses as it is used to work in a particular way.
The second reason is the societal pressures; what will people say? Most worry more about what others will feel than the benefits the change may bring. The mind is so hardwired and ‘rusted’ that it is near impossible to upgrade the system. For every forward-looking mind there are thousands ready to pull it back.
The sub-par education level is another reason for slow acceptance of changes. The education system does not encourage innovation and questioning the status quo. The emphasis is on passing rather than on educating. Till the education system changes nothing else will change much. Because of the low education level, the majority for whom the change is intended are not able to understand the benefits. They are easily misguided by vested interests to oppose the change.
The understanding and the methodology of implementation itself at times is to be blamed for the failure. There are bosses who think they know it all. They like to implement their ideas without taking the mind of the people who are going to be affected most by the change. This usually leads to protests and failure of the project.
These bosses fail to understand the underlying factors behind the protest. They attempt to treat the symptoms rather than the main cause of discontentment. This generally leads to a stalemate and the process gets stalled.
Economics is a major consideration for bringing in any organisational changes. The organisations should have the financial ability to implement and sustain the change.
The way ahead….
Every decision for change should be taken very deliberately. All stake holders should be taken on board and explained the need and the benefits. Forced changes should be avoided as far as possible. Discussions always lead to best results. However, the discussions cannot be allowed to go on endlessly.
All efforts should be made to convince the fence sitters. The ones who want the change but are scared to implement it in their time.
Changes should not be brought about suddenly. People should be mentally prepared before a major change is implemented. Change is a continuous process and attempts should not be made to bring in major modifications midway unless fully justified. There are numerous examples in our political history where a change implemented by one government is reversed by the next incumbent just for the sake of opposition.
Changes cannot be emotion based. They got to be based on logical reasoning. People got to be educated regarding the pros and cons of the change before it is implemented.
Once a change has been set in motion it should be given a reasonable time to see the effects. Every new process take time to stabilise and should be given the due time to fully understand the benefits or losses.
In case of individuals rewiring of the brain, rewiring of the thoughts is the most important. It is not exactly brain washing but spending time and developing an understanding of the new. The decision is finally based on logical reasoning.
The entire education system needs a re-look. It should encourage innovation and questioning of the status quo.
Changes are a necessity for growth of the individuals, organisation, and the society. Any society or organisation which has resisted change for good has lost its relevance.