August 20, 2018

Scared of radical change? Tips on getting out of that rut

Arthur Fink can be contacted at / If you have a question for an ACE expert, contact Jim Milliken at

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Q: I think our company is stuck in a rut, but we're scared of radical change. What should we do?

ACE advises: Change is frightening to many. It can be even more frightening when it is uncontrolled and unplanned.

But consider the cost of rejecting change. Kodak kept making film when an increasing number of pictures were being taken with digital cameras. Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) believed that small computers were a passing fad and kept making larger machines.

Change becomes more manageable and less scary when seen in a longer-term context.

Here's a picture of what happens to productivity over time: When change is introduced, productivity plummets at first. Given a new smart phone, you may not be able to add names to your contact list or check your calendar while talking on the phone.

The amount that productivity falls is labeled the "pain." Gradually, or perhaps faster, productivity improves. As you begin to master the new technology or system, things should return to where you started.

The time before productivity is restored is labeled"perseverance." Ideally, productivity will keep climbing until at some point it levels off.

The increase in productivity from its original level is labeled the "gain."

Recently I was involved designing and installing an integrated communication system for a hospital. Management insisted that perseverance be no more than a few hours at most, with extra support staff so patient care would never suffer.

Think about possible change for your organization in terms of pain, perseverance and gain. Identifying suitable parameters may lessen much of the concern or fear about change.


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