Change Fatigue or Opportunity
- Posted by Andrew Bergen
- On January 21, 2021
- Board Leadership, Strategic Focus
The fact that the world situation in the past 10 months has demanded much change from everyone is not news to any of us. We have all had to adapt – work patterns, schooling, parenting, shopping, dining, entertainment – and everything else has required new ways for us to interact. We have, in fact, been changing weekly, maybe even daily, for months on end now.
Some conventional wisdom says that constant change leads to a sense of change fatigue. “I can’t take one more change to my world!” This wisdom says that, as leaders, we should be careful about how much change we require of those around us. That same wisdom would then lead many organizations to hold back on implementing potentially beneficial changes – because their people must be fatigued by now.
However, some recent research from the NeuroLeadership Institute1 suggests the opposite is in fact true. Those who experience more changes are more open to further change. The hardest part of change is ‘unfreezing’ the current state. We all tend to prefer what we already have and resist efforts to shift our comfort zone. So, much of change management is focused on helping people understand and buy into the need to give up the current state. However, the global situation right now has forced us all to let go of the past, so the hardest work is already done. In fact, right now may be the best time to implement change.
No one wanted the world to experience the current global pandemic. In spite of the cost of the pandemic, one benefit that has arisen is the chance to reimagine what our organizations can become. People in one organization I work with have said numerous times that they have been able to accomplish super-complex, interdepartmental, collaborative initiatives in a matter of weeks that normally would have taken years (if ever)! A scan of companies that are thriving in 2020 and 2021 shows they are ones that are the most nimble, the ones that are most willing to do things differently.
What opportunities does this current situation bring to your board? Your organization? What have you always wanted to do, but have found too daunting? This might be your chance.
Often attributed to Winston Churchill (although there is uncertainty about the initial source), “Never let a good crisis go to waste!”