We talk a lot about change, how we need change, how we want change, how we make change, but the truth of the matter is, change doesn’t just happen. To create change, we tend to fall into a trap of believing popular change myths.
For instance, the Myth of the Change Program is when a struggling company decides to undergo a re-branding effort. Successful companies do not rely on a new name or develop a specific program to bring about change. I worked at a company that tried this approach. It was confusing to our customers and to the employees. Ultimately, everyone saw through the gimmick for what it truly was, a sign of desperation.
Then there is the Myth of the Burning Platform. We believe that change will occur when there is a crisis to persuade “unmotivated” employees to embrace the need for change. Successful companies do not rely on external circumstances for motivation. They look to hire individuals who already believe in the mission and are self-motivated.
This next one seems to be an all-time favorite, the Myth of Fear-Driven Change. This myth is particularly dangerous because it may produce results, but only for the short-term. Change stemming from fear is not a long-term strategy for a successful company.
Another popular strategy is the Myth of Technology-Driven Change. It focuses on assuming the role of being an early adopter of questionable resources or put another way, a chance to wave shiny things in front of people as a distraction from the real problems.
At one time or another whether in our personal or professional lives, we have attempted to prompt change by following one of these myths. If we did and saw some positive effects, it was most surely short lived. Change is not something that happens overnight. Change requires commitment, dedication, and perseverance. Ultimately, change is a test of patience. It is the result of a series of disciplined actions over a sustained period of time.
We often look at companies like Apple or Microsoft and higher education institutions like Western Governors University or Southern New Hampshire University with admiration. We wonder at their seemingly overnight success, but what we fail to realize is that they overcame challenges and defeat to get to this point in their story. We usually do not see that perspective in news articles or press releases. Their innovations and growth become the measuring stick other companies and institutions use to gauge their own value. We look at their success and wonder what we somehow missed along the way.
What we choose not to see is the evolution of the company or institution that went on behind the scenes. The people they lost, the products that failed, and the rejection they received. These too were all a part of their change process before they achieved success. We also do not see that despite these setbacks, that there were people who cared, products that met a need, and leaders with a vision. We only see the good, but successful companies and institutions know that there was bad before there was good and at times they both coexisted together. Sometimes we only see the chicken and we forget to realize that it was once an egg.