How Different People Respond to Change

by Adi Gaskell

denialWhen you talk with others in the innovation world, there is often a frustration about the laggards who are perceived as being immune from (or in denial about)  change.

The people who believe that the various technological and social changes occurring in the world are fantastic, but that won’t really ever affect them in their industry.

Whilst it’s tempting to think of such people as ostriches with their heads buried in the sand, the reality is often not that they are immune to change, but merely that they are changing at a slower pace than others.

Four different ways you can react to change

The following are four types of people you can often find within organizations at the various stages of the change scale.

  1. People who hark for the past – it’s tempting to think of this group as being opposed to change, but that is far from the case.  In reality, they want to change away from the status quo and back to a past that they regard rather more fondly.
  2. Stuck in the mud – the next group are somewhat less enthusiastic about change in whatever form it takes.  They will probably only change when given no other choice (often when it’s too late to do anything else).  If this group dominates your organization then it’s a perilous position to be in as they often busy themselves obstructing change at every opportunity.
  3. Wanting to be led – the third group are arguably the most commonplace in the workplace.  They are generally quite open to change and are more than happy to try and optimize their performance.  They will do this by following the trends and experimenting in both their personal and professional lives.
  4. The standard bearers – the final group are the forethinkers and leaders who are prepared to very much lead the agenda rather than follow.  For them, the future isn’t something to respond to but to shape themselves.  Therefore, they strive to design an optimal future, and invent ways that this future can manifest itself.

Now, suffice to say, this is a relatively straight forward analysis of the kind of personalities that exist in a business, and it’s quite possible that there is a bit of each of these types in all of us.

Given that change is arguably the only constant we face however, it might be valuable to understand the various types of personality that exist in your business so as to successfully manage the change facing you and your industry.

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Adi-Gaskell-150x150Adi Gaskell tells us: “I am a free range human who believes that the future already exists if we know where to look. From the bustling Knowledge Quarter in London, it is my mission in life to hunt down those things and bring them to a wider audience, with my posts here focusing particularly on the latest research on innovation and change.” Follow Adi @adigaskell

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