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Want Your Organization to Change? Put Feelings First

| July 27, 2010

by Jim Bruce

Dan Heath in today’s Reading – “Want Your Organization to Change?  Put Feelings First – points out that typically when we want people to change, we try to teach them something.  Sounds good, right?  WRONG!  According to Heath and John Kotter, knowledge rarely leads to change.

Heath observes that we know that obesity causes significant health problems but people don’t generally eat better.  Similarly, we know that texting while driving causes accidents, but that knowledge doesn’t change behavior.  And, we know that the warnings on cigarette packs – US: “Cigarettes release carbon monoxide” and Italy:  Smoking kills“ – don’t seem to make a difference either.

So, it should not surprise us that knowledge alone doesn’t lead to organizational change.  John Kotter says most people see change as happening in three stages:  First, you analyze the situation, then you arrive at a solution, and finally you change.  And, not much happens!  In Kotter’s experience, it is still a three stage-process:  ”People SEE something that makes them FEEL something that gives them the fire to CHANGE.  SEE–FEEL–CHANGE.

So, if you want people to change, they have to feel something first.  The task of the change agent then is to go beyond designing the change to get those who need to change to feel that need and become sufficiently charged up to do something about it.

So, stop a moment and take inventory of your change initiatives.  Are people feeling the need for the change?


Have a great week.  .  .  .   jim