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  • Writer's picturekaren paterson

Embracing 'no': 3 reasons why resistance to change can be healthy

Understanding the toll of continuous change

Are you frequently reaching for a headache remedy by mid-week? If so, it might be time to consider the impact of constant changes in your workplace. As organisations strive to remain agile, the phrase 'great idea, let's add it to our change program' becomes all too common. This ongoing addition of tasks and objectives can leave teams stretched thin and exhausted.

Why resistance can be prudent

My experiences with extensive change programs in large organisations have shown that maintaining a controlled focus is crucial. Despite formal change control processes, the temptation to constantly add new projects or tweak existing ones without proper review often leads to scope creep. This usually starts with enthusiasm and a flurry of activity but sustaining that momentum can become challenging as time passes and initial objectives blur or shift.

Three valid reasons to say "No" to additional changes

  • resource constraints: when new tasks threaten to overload your existing capabilities, causing delays and inefficiencies in your core projects, it's time to say no

  • lack of formal review: initiating changes or adding projects without a thorough review process can lead to misalignment with your program’s objectives. Each new change should be evaluated for its expected benefits and alignment with overall goals

  • loss of focus: managing multiple projects with similar timelines can dilute your program's effectiveness, making it hard to gauge the benefits or handle emerging issues competently.

Strategies for managing change requests

If you find your program bombarded with requests for additions or shifts in focus, consider these steps:

  • reassess and reset objectives: take time to reevaluate your program's goals. This might involve stopping and restarting the program with a revised focus based on current needs and technologies

  • engage and evaluate: use focus groups and surveys to gather feedback on what's working and what's not. Understanding the original problems your program aimed to solve can inform your decision-making and ensure continued relevance

  • monitor and adapt: regularly check in with teams, including communications, to stay informed about shifts in customer needs and market conditions. This cross-functional collaboration is essential for timely adjustments to your strategy

  • experiment responsibly: when testing changes, consider setting up smaller, separate projects that won't interfere with the main program’s progress. This allows for focused experimentation without overextending your resources.

Reflecting on your approach

As you navigate the complexities of change management, consider what elements of your current approach could be paused or adjusted. Identifying these can help streamline your efforts and enhance your strategic outcomes.

What changes would you stop today, and what would you start or add to achieve better results in your change program?


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