'Back in the 70s and 80s things never changed as much, it
was like the world stayed the same for longer, you know!'
If we are honest with ourselves, change is here to
stay. Eric Hofner said, 'In times of
change the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves
beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.' Hofner reminds us that change waits for no
one and that we have to be equipped with the tools to manage an environment
where change will accelerate exponentially.
Here are two different experiences with change.
Dr. Edward Miller a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins University took 100 patients
who had bypass surgery and gave them reading material on how to live more healthy
lives. He showed them that their bad
habits were death traps. He warned them
that they would probably die within four years if they did not change their
ways. If you knew your life was
dependant on change, would you change?
Dr. Miller kept monitoring his 100 patients through the four
years. Guess how many were still alive
after four years? After all of the
warnings, only nine out of the 100 survived.
Ninety one were so stuck in their habits that it cost them their lives.
Contrast that story with one involving Dr. Dean Ornish from University
of California, San Francisco. He had
read of Dr. Miller's work and he took 100 patients with heart disease and
monitored them for four years. His
results were dramatically different. Of
his 100 patients, seventy seven were still alive after four years. What did he do that was different?
His approach to change had three fundamental differences. First, he did not threaten his patients with
death, but helped them focus on reasons they wanted to stay alive. Second, he helped his patients change
immediately. He did not allow months to
pass but within the first 30 days he changed their eating, sleeping and
exercising habits drastically. Third, his patients were divided into support
groups. We need support to change.
How can we apply these principles? If we want to change, understand the purpose
of the change and the picture of the future that promises a better quality of
life. The same applies to introducing
change in business. People want to
understand why change is taking place and are less reluctant to change if they
understand how it will benefit the business and themselves.
Second, if you need to change, do so immediately and drastically. Stop pondering the change and get on with
it. This principle is more controversial
and cannot always be applied, but is definitely the most effective way to
Third, if you want to change as an individual, get
accountability and support. We all need
help to change. In business, a proper
change management process will provide the best results. A good idea would be to have discussion groups
about the change, especially for more dramatic change. Some businesses have
change workshops for their employees while others provide coaching to support
them through the change.
Learning how to cope with change is a key to success.