Home Tools Coaching Questions Soliciting the Pre-Mortem and Riding the Change Curve: Coaching Tools, Strategies and Concepts for Effective Planning

Soliciting the Pre-Mortem and Riding the Change Curve: Coaching Tools, Strategies and Concepts for Effective Planning

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At the very least, this person or organization is much less inclined to initiate another change in the near future. Frequently, we find that those people who are now the recalcitrants in an organization—resisting any and all change efforts—were formerly those who advocated change, but found that their change efforts were unsuccessful or, more frequently, never given a fair test. Thus, when we abort a change effort in the middle of a change curve we may be creating employees who will be hindrances to change efforts in the future.

When a change effort is stopped in mid-stream, the future options and resources of the person or organization in adapting to changing conditions and responding to complex problems are reduced. This person or organization has become immobilized—stagnated—by its premature rejection of the change initiative. This premature rejection is based, in turn, on a failure to anticipate, identify and understand the change curve phenomenon.

Deciding Whether or Not to Initiate Change

Because of the negative consequences associated with an aborted change effort, it is better for a person or organization not to undertake a major change effort if this person or organization is unable to see this change through to the end. One should keep open the option of stabilization as well as change when leading an organization. To paraphrase a passage from Ecclesiastes: for everything there is a season — a time for change, and a time to refrain from change.

What then are the conditions under which one can sustain a change effort through the period of disillusionment and disruption? First, people who will be involved in this change effort must recognize that the change curve is likely to be present. They should not immediately judge the worth of a change effort, but wait instead until there has been ample time for the system to adjust to this change.

Second, people who are immediately involved in the change effort should be sufficiently committed to this effort to give it a good try. If the change effort has been initiated without adequate consultation with those who must enact the change, then the change curve is likely to be long-term and debilitating. There will be no Hawthorne Effect to provide an initial boost in morale and productivity. Nor will there be much motivation to continue with the change, once the disruption sets in. Typically, those people who were not consulted about the change will push for a return to the status quo (producing stagnation) or will push for another type of change (producing the vicious cycle of repetitive change).

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