Organizational Change Strategies
30th March 2021

Organizational Change Strategies

2 minute read

Takeaway: The type of change strategy used can either inflame or soothe the emotions of the people creating change. 

Where your emotional brain is concerned, you’re either on the driving end or receiving end of organizational change. You are either pulling change into place, which means you have agency, or you are having change pushed onto you, making you comply. Compliance is often accompanied by behavioral resistance, which many leaders attribute to poor individual character. What would you think if I said resistance has more to do with the environment, or the process of change, than the person?

push vs pull

The process of change pushes buttons deeply wired within our brains: yours, mine, and theirs. Consider the simple phrase:

“You must change.”

Who is of lesser status? You are. And it turns out that status is a prized possession amongst all of us. This simple fact drives entire industries. Here is where it gets interesting.

When status is threatened, there is an emotional response deep in the brain. The fight or flight response is engaged – addressing the threat as priority number one.

when fighting or fleeing...

Through evolution, we figured out how to conserve and redirect energy for basic survival. Society has largely moved on, there are few true survival threats in modern organizations, but our brains don’t know this. They still act as we might die from public speaking, which brings me back to my point about organization design.


Public Speaking

The change strategy used either enflames or soothes the emotional triggers about which most of us are unaware. This influences whether we get the worst or best out of our people, those on whom we rely to change the organization. The environment is too competitive and complex to provoke anything but the best from our people.

If technical changes are made before the social system is ready, people will resist the change.

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Dan Schmitz is a Consultant at ON THE MARK.

OTM is the leading global boutique organization design consultancy with offices in the USA and UK. With over 450 successful redesigns and operating model modernizations completed, OTM is owner of the industry’s most integrated, comprehensive and holistic organization design solution. OTM enables its clients to realize their future ambitions.

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