Good Change – Bad Change

Good Change – Bad Change

Don Draper, the fictional advertising guru on the television show “Mad Men” says, “Change is neither good or bad. It simply is.”

Good luck convincing your team of that.

We all want the change we introduce to be accepted based on the inherent trust of followers that we have the organization’s best interests in mind.

It doesn’t always happen that way, does it? Despite our best efforts to explain the benefits of a change, there are those who respond with benign acceptance or even outright resistance.

We all view change through a lens of perception. Your chances of others buying in to change increase substantially when your communication plan answers these seven key questions:

  1. How does it affect me? A new work process will be a good thing if it makes it easier for you to complete your work. It will be a bad change if it adds complexity or extra steps. On the other hand, you don’t really care or have little more than a passing interest about the change if it doesn’t’ affect you
  2. How does the change move me/us toward something that we want or need? Does it add value or move me/us toward a goal that is important? If not, you can expect only passive support or even resistance.
  3. Are the costs of changing less than the costs of staying the same? Or put another way, is the pain of staying the same greater than the pain of changing? Pain creates urgency, and there will be those who evaluate any change that doesn’t solve an immediate problem as a waste of energy and resources—even if the long-term payout is significant. The challenge is to make the benefit outweigh the cost.
  4. How much do you know about the change and how much credibility does the person who is communicating it have with you? The national debate over healthcare reform is an excellent example. One person’s Affordable Healthcare Act is another’s Obamacare. It is the same legislative change, but support is different based on, to a large degree, the credibility of the person framing your perceptions about it.
  5. How much influence can I have in the change process? People support what they help create. It isn’t always possible to involve everyone in planning every detail of the change. If not, explain why. And, consider adding opportunities for input if it will increase support.
  6. Did the change actually produce a result that is different and valuable? This observation from a seasoned manager rings true today: “Just because things are different, that doesn’t mean that anything has really changed.” Changes that  don’t produce results lose support. Define results early. Measure them often, and fine tune as needed.
  7. How does this change affect my overall ability to function and cope? The best leaders are in tune with their team’s capacity for additional change. There are times when a change that is widely acknowledged as useful will be resisted because of diminished capacity to cope or function.

Change, by definition, causes discomfort. If it happens easily and overnight, there is no real change. You can minimize that discomfort and increase the buy-in for change by successfully answering these seven questions.


Excerpted from Make Change Work by Randy Pennington. Published by John Wiley & Sons.


About the Author:

Randy Pennington

Randy Pennington is an award-winning author and a leading authority on helping organizations deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To learn more or to hire Randy for your next meeting, visit or call 972-980-9857.