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Do You Like it Fast…or Slow?

January 10, 2012

Many times when we talk about change – in the workplace, at home, out in the wide-open spaces of society – I think we’re often equating said change with speed and quickness.  “How do I keep up with the rapid pace of these changes at the office?” we ask ourselves. “It’s just too fast,” we moan to our friends over a crisp glass of wine from the Loire region of France. “I can’t switch on tbe turn of a dime.  I need time to understand and adjust how I operate.”

So we panic and dig in our heels and fight it.  And we feel OK because, after all, we can point to numerous articles in Psychology Today and the Harvard Business Review and all sorts of other illustrious publications that reinforce the fact that “people resist change.”

I’ve seen the resistance.  I’ve been the resister.

And I’ve seen leaders who, in their attempt to staunch the bleeding soothe the spirits, have attempted to bring in change more gradually.  And by gradually I mean something that could have taken 6 months to adjust, took 3 years.  Slow and steady?  More like lethargic and lackadaisical.

Slowing down, (to lessen the blow?) created a whole new set of challenges.  Frustration set in, a spirit of ennui overtook the organization and people began to believe that all the talk of “a new paradigm” was just a bunch of hot air from the C-Suite.  So everyone moved back into their little-comfortable-routine thus ensuring that when the “change brigade” rushed forth with renewed vigor, there was a combination of disbelief and even more-heel digging amongst the rank-and-file.

The lesson in all this?  Going slow in the mistaken belief that it will provide time for people to get used to the idea of change can be as bone-headed as ripping the bandage off and making the change with no preparation or forethought.

**********

Back in the day, some wise sages a bunch of groovy kids sang a little ditty called “Time to Change.”  Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby and Cindy had the right idea when they sang:

When it’s time to change, then its time to change

Don’t fight the tide, come  along for the ride, don’t you see

When it’s time to change, you’ve got to  rearrange

who you are into what you’re gonna be.

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