Why Change is Hard

December 9, 2010  

I am someone who loves change.  In fact I sometimes change things simply for change sake.

But I recently learned a powerful lesson on why change is difficult, even for someone like me who loves to stir things up.

I bought a MacBook Pro a few weeks ago.  Friends have been prodding me to buy Apple after a number of technical issues with my Windows-based machine.

I have to admit, I really liked my PC.  But for a variety of reasons, it was time for a change.

I was excited.  As I said, I love change.

But what I discovered quickly was that I did not love my Mac.

To be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with my Mac.  It is just different than Windows.  I am so used to my old PC that I could do things so quickly with hotkeys.  From my perspective, nearly everything was intuitive on the PC while the Mac just doesn’t make sense to me.

My productivity diminished significantly since the switch.  Last week I seriously considered loading Windows on my Mac via bootcamp.  This would turn my Mac hardware into a PC.  I was finding my new operating system and software too difficult to learn.

And then it dawned on me.  I was resisting change, the way most people do.

It is not that Windows is better.  It’s just different.  The more I use my Mac, the more I get used to it. I am assured by most people that Mac is indeed a better solution.

And this is what happens inside of organizations.  We resist change not because the old way is better.  We resist change because the effort it takes to do things differently is difficult.  It takes time.  It takes patience.  It takes breaking old habits and learning new ones.

The “culture” of an organization is much like the operating system of a computer.  Maybe you have a PC culture today but want a Mac culture.  There are things that everyone will need to learn.  And everyone will have to believe the the switch is valuable enough to justify the effort.

If they don’t see the reason for the change, they will do what I did…revert to old habits and find ways of circumventing the system.  Much like my running Windows on a Mac.

In the end I did not install Windows on my machine.  I decided to really dive in and learn the new operating system.  I am convinced that in the long run, this will be a better solution.

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3 Responses to “Why Change is Hard”

  1. Tweets that mention Why Change is Hard | Business Innovation Speaker and Consultant Stephen Shapiro -- Topsy.com on December 9th, 2010 7:26 am

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  2. Rishi on December 9th, 2010 9:46 am

    Steve:

    I made the switch last year and after an initial transition, I’m a big fan of the new interface. Don’t give up!

    The Mac crashed on me only once this past year.

    Also, to make the transition easier, try VMWare and transfer your old PC to your Mac. So you can instantly go back when you need to!

    Rishi

  3. tvannest on December 9th, 2010 4:23 pm

    Personal anecdote and great analogy, thanks, Stephen! Your story also draws out the fact that there are many forms of resistance. They range from naive or scared but constructive to selfish and sabbateur-like. I think most accept that resistance is a natural part of change today.

    I believe is that the lesson for Change Leaders is to look at your response (deciding to slog through and adopt new skills rather than patch in a work-around)—and ask, “How can I listen more effectively and engage the hearts and minds of our team to find this balance in the context of our organizational change.”

    Proactivity on this path serves to grow the audience and accelerate adoption. Servicing those who will take responsibility for making this fit/balance work for them (even if they struggle at first and need gobs more attention) moves the organization forward. Investing energy (diverting it from engaging everyone) to placate or go to war with the worst form of resistor only results in steps backward and reinforce anarchy (in your analogy–the worker who would stand up and say “MY comfort with this (old) application is MORE IMPT than the collective productivity yield we will gain by making (ANY) change.”

    Stay in the light, seek to understand those scared by the light, and don’t…for the life of you, chase others into the darkness.