Why is transformation so difficult to achieve?
“The invisible fears and insecurities that keep us locked into behaviours even when we know rationally that they don’t serve us well. Add to that the anxiety that nearly all human beings experience in the face of change. Nonetheless, most organizations pay far more attention to strategy and execution than they do to what their people are feeling and thinking when they’re asked to embrace a transformation. Resistance, especially when it is passive, invisible, and unconscious, can derail even the best strategy,” according to Tony Schwartz, president and CEO of The Energy Project. He suggests that “great strategy remains foundational to transformation, but successful execution also requires surfacing and continuously addressing the invisible reasons that people and cultures so often resist changing, even when the way they’re working isn’t working.”
Resistance to change does not reflect opposition, nor is it merely a result of inertia. Instead, even as those impacted by change hold a sincere commitment to change, many people are unwittingly applying productive energy toward a hidden competing commitment [and this includes change agents themselves]. The resulting dynamic equilibrium stalls the effort in what looks like resistance but is, in fact, a kind of personal immunity to change, according to Kegan and Lahey (2001).
Kegan, R. & Lahey, L. 2001. The Real Reason People Won’t Change. Harvard Business Review. (November)