A group of people has been attempting to accomplish some task as effectively and efficiently as possible. To do this, they naturally have developed various individual habits, social conventions, and have adopted certain technologies. Now, change in one or more of these aspects of their work is needed. This can be due to a change in the nature of the problem, the nature of the context in which they are working, learning, or the invention of new technological support. A plan is being developed to manage change.
How can people re-organize their work to reflect the new situation while at the same time retaining progress that has been made, keeping what still works and avoiding the case where people resist change? In particular, it is often the case that the benefits of change are longer term than the costs of change, which tend to be front-loaded. Once people begin to experience the benefits of change, it can often be the case that there is a positive feedback loop helping to sustain the change. But, how can one overcome the initial resistance to change during the phase when those experiencing the change perceive only costs and no benefits?
· People have a drive to learn and practice new skills.
· People have a drive to acquire new experiences.
· People have a drive to defend against change that is too sudden, radical, or where the consequences are perceived to be too negative or too uncertain.
· The costs of change tend to be more front-loaded than the benefits.
Change must often be “jump-started” by including an element in the changed system that is not a permanent feature but which must be there to overcome the initial threshold. These might include education and training, practice, extra time, special incentives, envisioning exercises that stress the benefits, reducing the anxiety of learning.
Edgar Schein’s work on learning anxiety and change.
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