Everyone evaluates change through his or her own lens and experience. For instance, you could think the rise of social media is a positive change because it provides a way to connect with friends and family and increases the shared experience and connection.
Or social media could be a harmful change because it detracts from meaningful, face-to-face conversation as everyone tweets and posts during dinner. And maybe you just don’t care because you and your circle of friends don’t participate in social media.
It is the headline for this blog, and it is as true today as it was when I wrote the book by the same title.
Using that criterion in its most literal meaning, any change that produces a desired result is a good change. Any collateral carnage associated with the change is simply the cost of doing business.
A few people suggested to me that a book titled Results Rule! epitomized everything that was wrong with the way business is conducted. Those people didn’t read the book. If they had, they would have known that the only way to consistently deliver results is through sustaining a culture that builds and leverages partnerships based on trust.
It is the same with evaluating successful change efforts. You can wrestle any change into submission with enough brute force, time, and money. That will work once or maybe even twice. It is, however, a lousy way to run a business.
A good change, in my view, is one that achieves the desired result while causing no residual damage to relationships or excessive strain on resources. A good change is one where those involved feel as if they were engaged, involved, appreciated, and treated with respect for their contribution. A good change is as concerned with how the effort was completed as it is with the results of the effort.
Every change is evaluated against the result AND the damage inflicted during its implementation. Ignore the people side of the change (feelings and perceptions), and it is only a matter of time before the desired results suffer, too.
The type of change needed in today’s successful organizations is continuous. It is generated from every level, and it requires engagement and commitment from those involved. You can mandate compliance. Commitment and engagement to make change work are volunteered when you focus on more than the end result.
Randy Pennington is author of Make Change Work: Staying Nimble, Relevant, and Engaged in a World of Constant Change (Wiley, 2013) from which this article is adapted.