Can people see that the alternative would be better?
Traditionally, "change projects" have often been driven by technology implementations or upgrades, with business processes and working practices being changed to fit in with the new system.
In today's turbulent economy, however, change is just as likely to be driven by something else: a long-established competitor unexpectedly going bust, for example, or your bank calling in a loan, or a layer of middle management being made redundant.
Whatever the situation, when change looms on the horizon, chances are that you'll hear things like:
With comments like these flying around, how will you get everyone to agree with the changes you have in mind? After all, you can't do this without them!
This is where Beckhard and Harris' Change Equation can help. In this article, we'll look at this equation, and see how you can use it to roll out successful change in the future.
Richard Beckhard and Rubin Harris first published their change equation in 1977 in "Organizational Transitions: Managing Complex Change," and it's still useful today. It states that for change to happen successfully, the following statement must be true:
Dissatisfaction x Desirability x Practicality > Resistance to Change
This seems to be a simple statement, but it's surprisingly powerful when used to structure a case for change. Let's define each element, and look at why you need it:
Dissatisfaction – Your team has to feel dissatisfied with the current situation before a successful change can take place. Without dissatisfaction, no one will likely feel very motivated to change.
Dissatisfaction could include competition pressures ("We're losing market share") or workplace pressures ("Our sales processing software is crashing at least once a week"). Dissatisfaction can be any factor that makes people uncomfortable with the current situation.
And because there's a multiplicative relationship between Dissatisfaction, Desirability and Practicality, if one element is missing, that variable will have a value of zero – meaning that this whole side of the equation will equal zero.
Beckhard and Harris' change equation is most useful as
This ensures that you don’t lose your plan.
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