Change Basics: Chapter I – What is Change (Pt.1)

I decided to start a totally new topic here on my Blog. This new topic, Change Basics, is dedicated to bring Change, Change Management and Change Communications closer to all people that are really new to this topic. So let this be a short lecture on the real essence of Change, just like back in college…


Change is with us and will always be here, and there are two ways of dealing with it:

  1. Reactively, by responding only when one has to, usually too late
  2. Proactively, by planning for change and trying to keep, if not one step ahead, then at least in the vanguard of Change

Of course, there is a third option – ignore it and hope it will go away. This was the course followed by dinosaurs, dodos and many companies that could not read the writing on the wall. Change and Change Programmes are, however, necessarily difficult and complex to manage, and even, sometimes, to understand. The objective of this new series is to clarify the key elements in the process, including the problems, pitfalls, solutions and the assistance available to those involved in change programmes. You may be an active participant, or on the receiving end, or you may just
wish to understand more about it.

Chapter I – What is Change (Part 1)

Definition of Change:
Noun – Making or becoming different

  • Difference from previous state
  • Substitution of one for another
  • Variation

The emphasis is on making something different. This could be a major Change or merely incremental. Whichever it is implies a difference:

Aggregate Phases of Water
Aggregate Phases of Water

The Annual Change Cycle – There is major Change all around you
Each year the earth goes through an enormous Change caused by its rotation (more perceptible in some parts than others) which forces responses that are staggering in enormity. For example, deciduous trees shed their leaves and close down for winter, to bloom again in spring; and animals change their coats (mink/ermine). Think, too, of the way in which we humans have to respond to climatic changes, by varying our clothing at different times of the year or by regulating the heating or air conditioning. Our well-being depends upon managing such Changes.

Incremental Change
The Change from manual recording of information (writing) to current laptops with advanced capability is an enormous one. In fact, it occurred incrementally through several steps. Ancient 19th C early 1900s mid 1900s 1980s 1990s Each step is incremental, requiring skills training and capital outlay. The Change in information processing was even greater, from scrolls to libraries to main frames to midis to LANs.

Change can be of an even greater nature. Consider metamorphosis, for example, which requires a complete Change of state and represents a severe shock to the status quo (in this case requiring a sleeping phase to cope with the change).

Incremental change:

  • 10% decrease in staff (usually achieved by natural wastage and early retirement; therefore non-threatening)
  • Introduction of performance-related pay (can be threatening for those who might underperform or perceive that they might)

Major change:

  • 25%+ reduction in staff (commonly involving large-scale redundancies/closures/ relocation and leading to great fear and uncertainty and therefore great resistance)
  • Premises rationalisation (usually results in changed work environments in terms of place and benefits)
  • Disinvestment/acquisition (usually leads to great fear and uncertainty which can cause it to fail; GEC’s bid for Siemens was halted by the staff in Germany fearing for their jobs because of the likelihood of rationalisation)

Change in Business
Change Management is the process of moving from the current state to the `vision of the future and involves a degree of transition which may also result in `pain’ for some or, more commonly, all.

If you want to learn more watch out for the next chapter – Chapter I – What is Change (Part 2)

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