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Jean Latting

Now that strikes a cord with me, as I am the co-author of a book about change itself. Reframing Change talks about How to Deal with Workplace Dynamics, Influence Others, and Bring People Together to Initiate Positive Change.

Steve Roesler

Jean, thanks for adding that resource to the mix.


I agree with the importance of putting a major emphasis on change in the work place. Without change, there can be no improvement. The most important part of change is the actual action. Talking about change can be exciting and feel inspiring, but can lead to disappointment and ultimately regression of the business if there is too much planning and not enough action.
I once had a manager in the retail business who constantly had ideas for radical changes in the business. He would often mention changing locations, broadening the range of inventory, or even completely changing the direction of the store, so much that he never even had the time to follow through with his plans. The amount of time spent on envisioning began to take over and eventually there was increasingly less focus on current business issues.
There was so much doubting and worry involved that eventually the business suffered. That is why it is important to take risks (if they are well planned) and not to talk yourself out of decisions. It is important to communicate with employees to gain more insight and support, but not just to encourage you to make a decision you are unsure about. There is a lot to risk when you make changes, so when you do, it is absolutely essential that they are well planned, thorough, and complete. Wishy-washy, doubtful, and dramatic changes do not benefit the work place. If managers can develop a good and effective way to make changes, business will be much better off!

Steve Roesler


That is a compelling example of the distinction between being specific, directive, and action-oriented about "change" vs. talking about it in philosophical or idealistic terms. It actually sounds as if the planning may not have been real planning--more of a "wouldn't it be nice if. . .?" series of exercises.

Thanks for adding this to the discussion.

Attention ATW Readers: Carla has clearly decided that such frustration and managerial inaction are not for her. She is a very funny woman who has moved here to (drumroll) New Jersey (see, you laughed just thinking about why someone would do that). For those of you who may be inclined to believe that every woman in NJ looks like Snooki (most of the women here are not orange), check out Carla's Facebook Page and Website:



William Seidman

As always, a great post. We are finding though that just talking about these factors -- risk, communication and change -- isn't having much impact in many US organizations. There seems to be such a profound risk aversion and conservatism in most organizations that no one is willing to take risks, and all change of course, creates some risk.

So we have been working on how to lower the risk of change. The keys seem to be two factors:

1. Leverage the positive deviants in the organization to create new practices that are widely accepted just because they came from the positive deviants
2. Leverage the neuroscience research on the importance of positive images about achieving a greater social good to build a sense of momentum about the value of the change.

When the goal of the change is powerful and the means of getting there is obvious and easily understood, much of the resistance to change disappears.

Steve Roesler

Well stated, Bill,

Like you, we've found that the "just talking" approach is akin to talk therapy: the conversation may be emotionally therapeutic but the perception of the risk in changing trumps meaningful action.

The intentional approach that you take using the two factors mentioned makes a lot of sense. Continued success to you and your group.


Bruce Mackay

I guess it is just like improving your golf game no action no improvement.If you take action and practice your ugly swing your score will drop as well. Talk is just away to come up with new ideas and bounce them off others.


By having great listening skills and being about to communicate effectively within an office setting or even with friends, family, and significant partner has it's advantages.



Thanks for the tip!

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