empty seats in an arena

Getting ready to begin a change is certainly important. Many people think change readiness is mainly about getting ready to begin – organising things in preparation and ticking off the checklist. Sure, this is important, but it is a long way from what change readiness means.

To be ready for change is not to be ready only for the beginning of the change process, but to be ready for all the change process. It is readiness to complete the change process – successfully.

There is a huge difference between being ready to begin and being ready to succeed. Many people carefully consider how to begin change. They decide on the vision and goals, they organise resources and governance, they communicate to their teams, and they develop change plans. But, despite this, many change projects deliver less than expected, are harder and more disruptive than expected, and cost more than expected. They encounter more resistance than they should, and workers feel stressed, fatigued by change, and increasingly disengaged. Morale suffers, the culture is stressed, trust falters, and staff turnover increases. I don’t think I am overstating things.

Is this a problem of how change starts, or is it mostly a problem of how change ends? I think the main problem here is not a lack of readiness to start the change process; it is a lack of readiness to succeed at the change process. Becoming ready for change is much more than being ready to start well – it is mostly about becoming ready to end well. It is important to understand the difference, and equally important to know what is needed to end well.

Dr Steve Barlow

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