Facilitating Organizational Change: Commitment
And so we’ve come to the end of the four stages of the change process.
This last stage is the hingepin that holds the others together. While change most certainly cannot be sustained without any of the other stages, no amount of intensity or passion in the other three can substitute for a lack of commitment to the overall process.
I read a book many years back by author Eugene Peterson called, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. The title piqued my curiosity and what I found was a testimonial to perseverance, commitment, and endurance. These characteristics are even more meaningful when contrasted against our technology-ladened, instant-gratification societies. These traits are vital within change management as well.
Growth occurs organically, not mechanically. Change, as it mimics growth, is a marathon, not a sprint. That may sound cliché, but it’s true nonetheless and it demands that perseverance, that commitment, be the order of the day.
Understand that every member within the organization—in their own way—will test the resolve of those who desire change. This is because culture—not policy—drives behavior and motivation in the organization. This is important to note because every vision, mission statement, or executive campaign is destined for failure if it does not first acknowledge, and subsequently address, the culture.
Fear of loss, triggered by change, can lead to opposition and a kind of possessive hoarding of organizational resources, rather than a liberal outflow of them. Subsequently, if a strong enough sense of loss is felt, members will find ways—both deliberately and unintentionally—to impede and suffocate change. Commitment is the cure.
By establishing commitment early on, and by allowing it to endure repeated assaults and testing, demonstrates the resolve of those initiating change and creates new, stable pathways for individuals to advance their careers and establish familiar patterns.
To recap: change begins with acknowledgment, is gauged through assessment, bolstered by planning, and sustained through commitment.
The process is infinitive not linear. You must continually pass through each of these stages and realize there is likely no finite destination. After you’ve lost those 25 extra pounds, what then? After you’ve learned how to play the violin, what’s next? Once you’ve reduced your turnover, increased profitability, and improved customer satisfaction, what will your sights be set on then?
The process is never-ending. Wash, rinse, repeat!