Resisting change is a natural reaction for most people. Understanding that change is a necessary part of life and that we each deal with it differently, are key factors that require consideration for change management.
When managing change, human nature, production, and plenty of other factors will have an impact on the results and influence the original vision. Problems will also crop up and they will need to be fixed; this will lead to a different result that can range from slight to significant.
For example, when you go to a car show and look at the new vehicle designs, there are often significant differences between how the car was initially designed and what people are actually driving. Projects run into cost overruns and must be scaled back. As well, sometimes the technology changes so quickly that what we thought we were designing will be redundant by the time we finish unless we make changes as we go.
Here are some key points about change:
- Change affects everyone differently; there is no “normal.”
- Change is an essential element of the world and it must be accepted.
- Adapting to change is about our attitude.
- We have to grieve for what we are letting go of.
- Change is an opportunity for self-motivation and innovation.
- We can identify strategies for accepting and implementing our changes.
Reactions to Change
People react differently to change– from immediate acceptance to resisting change. Everett M. Rogers (1931-2004) is best known for developing the diffusion of innovations theory. Research on the subject has included a vast range of activities, including how people go from being bystanders to participating in a riot, communities learning about family planning, and farmers adapting to hybrid seeds. Rogers breaks down people’s reactions into the following categories:
The Innovators are people who want to try new ways of doing things or who have responsibility for continuous improvement. They will be pushing for change.
The Early Adopters on the team will be the first to embrace the changes. They may even rush in before they fully understand the change and why it is necessary. They welcome change either because they immediately see the benefits or perhaps because they prefer variety to routine.
The Early Majority are those who are influenced by Innovators and Early Adopters and who prefer to be ahead of the wave rather than swamped by it.