Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Process in change

Knowing that changes need to be made is half of the challenge. The other half is designing a change process that is most likely to result in your desired conclusion. The key word here is process. When change goes wrong, it is usually connected to a process that is flawed or short-circuited.

Here is a key principle: Most people are willing to change even though that change causes them discomfort, if they can be convinced that the proposed change meets a value of theirs which is higher than their resistance to change. Having said that, remember that the heart acceptance of the change will be determined by where they are on the change curve.

For instance, I have helped numerous congregations change their governance systems to reflect a more empowered culture. Almost without exception, late majority and laggards were negative toward the change when it was first introduced, and even the early majority was cautious.

However, when there is a process that allows people's questions to be answered, and when they are convinced that a change in governance will help the church reach more people for Christ (a high value of believers), most are willing to consider and adopt the changes. That's because the value of reaching folks for Christ is a higher value than their resistance to change.

This is why having solid values are so important to an organization. When change is needed, it is the mission and the values that must be appealed to and if these are a higher value than the inborn resistance to change, people will be willing to consider necessary changes. If you cannot appeal to a higher value, then the argument becomes one of preference rather than one of mission.

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