Organisations are primarily groups of people, therefore any change effort in your organisation is also primarily about helping people to change.

A common mistake with change is to think of it as a physical science, like physics and that if we apply enough Newtonian force, we can make people change.

Change has more in common with life sciences like biology.  Just us our bodies natural response to a germ is to resist it, so we do with change.  Sometimes this resistance works, and we carry on pretty much as we were before.

When it doesn’t, rather than the clean ‘step up’ in perfomance we may desire we go through various stages – the first stage of which more closely resemble the breaking of a wave on the ocean.  Highly unpredictable, potentially dangerous and for some it may not be clear which way is up, down, forwards or backwards.

All great changes are preceded by chaos

— Deepak Chopra

If we’re lucky, we’ll figure out how to ride that wave and continuously adjust our position to stay on top.  Through close observation, we might also be able to stay in that position for longer than others.

Eventually, however, we’re back to paddling in apparently calm waters until the next desire for change comes along – whether that’s internally generated or the result of market forces.