Change resilience – how bad?

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Change resilience – how bad is yours? Are you positioned to deal with change? Recent reactions to the emergence of a Large Language Model limited artificial intelligence suggest that many of us, including experts, are not well positioned at all.

Life, and our universe, is not static. We have done our best to impose structures and rules that make it appear so, but it is not. The emergence of data science as a dominant force in almost every area has the one negative side-effect of reinforcing our false impression of the permanence of the patterns we interpret out of the chaos around us.

These structures give us enough of an illusion of predictability and safety to be OK living the lives that we do. But that’s all it is: an illusion. Massive change is underway at every second of every day. We just don’t see it. We actively refuse to see it.

We have become change resistant. Despite the obvious cognitive dissonance you’d think would result from insisting that things don’t really change, we experience huge discomfort when confronted with change. It is an existential threat. We admit no degrees. It’s going to kill us.

Again, this is weird when you take into account how much we rely on and take change into account when doing things like career planning and project management!

As a result of this illusion, we prefer concrete solutions to change: organisational consultants, management systems, new processes connected to new tech. Our actions in response to change are often as inflexible as our initial reaction.

To be change resilient, we need to stop acting as if there is stasis, as if change is the exception. We need to start behaving in ways that take the notion of continuous, ongoing change into account. In short, the culture we live and work in needs to change. (There’s that word again!)

In a company, you can bring in your organisational change expert, improve your workflow system and send your managers for coaching, but you may still not get the desired change in outcome. That will be because the culture of the organisation will not change. Change resilience is an attitude, not a system. It’s a mindset, not a process.

To deal better with change within organisations, we need to be doing less of what we have always done before, and more of what we have never done. We need to be creating space to experiment and fail. We must laud and reward such experimentation and failure. We need to admit that everything COULD be better and set our people free to make it so without all the hoops, red tape and restrictions we currently impose with our command and control mindset.

AI may well kill us if we don’t change the way we work. It’ll bore us to death by recycling all we already know and spewing it back at us in a slightly flashier, prettier form until we tire of its theatrics and kill ourselves.

All the dramatic wailing and gnashing of teeth doom mongering echoing through the chambers of business right now are the sounds of humans ill-equipped for change … We invent tools that WILL disrupt and then squawk like a spoiled child when it does what we asked.

This is not the response we need.

We need to take what has happened and adapt, adjust and recalibrate it. We need to do what we always do… but consciously, together, every day.

Then, maybe, AI will fulfil its promise of a better life for all human beings.

Then, maybe, we will become more resilient to change.