# 3 - The Change Monster
TOOLS for TEAMS
by Randi Brenowitz
Issue # 3
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Issue # 3 - The Change
For a long time I have resisted the urge to read more about change
management. It seemed to me that everything useful had already
been said. I was starting to believe that change could not be
managed at all, and the concept of change management was merely
an illusion. Recently, however, colleagues I trust have been suggesting
that I read Jeanie Daniel Duck's The Change Monster (Crown Business,
2001). As much as I hate to admit it, they were right. It's quite
book focuses on the central issue that undermines so many change
efforts -- the human interactions and emotional dynamics of the
people involved. Other books that have attempted this tend to
become prescriptions for making everyone feel good, while forgetting
about the business issues of the enterprise. Duck gives us a tough-minded
but compassionate book about the many facets of change, which
will be helpful for any team that is going through a corporate
transformation or other change. Duck believes that there are 3
essentials of working though change: strategy, execution, and
sensitivity to emotional and behavioral issues. Although she concentrates
on the third element, she clearly recognizes the other two.
introduces the following five-stage framework -- called the "change
curve" -- for understanding and managing the human element
of the change process:
phase may awaken the "Change Monster" -- the emotions
and fears of those faced with change. Both team members and leaders
need to tame this monster.
Stagnation can be caused by a wide range of factors, such as poor
strategy, lack of leadership, shifts in the market, product failure,
lack of new products or services, limited resources, outdated
technology, or poor execution. The team becomes depressed or demoralized,
with the same symptoms as a depressed person: general slowness,
difficulty or inability to make decisions, and lack of energy
The best diagnosis to determine if your team is in stagnation
analyzes 3 types of information: external and internal qualitative
(or emotional) data and quantitative data. When planning a way
out of stagnation, we must ask: What outdated beliefs and behaviors
are prevalent in our team that will prevent us from conceiving
and executing a winning strategy?
Operational issues are addressed during this stage: a new structure
is designed; new roles and responsibilities are defined; the critical
products or tasks of the team are determined. During this step
it is important to assess how the team members feel about the
change. One technique is called the Ready, Willing, & Able
Assessment (RWA). It focuses on three aspects of preparedness:
Readiness to change, Willingness to Change, and Ability to Change.
(see pp. 124-132 for more details).
Because it is an in-between stage filled with anxiety and uncertainty,
many action-oriented teams tend to skip this phase and just "get
on with it!" only to come back to it later. If team members
do not sufficiently believe in the need for change, or if they
do not understand or endorse the change plan, the change effort
is likely to falter during the implementation phase.
Stage 3 Implementation
During the implementation phase, you should expect the rule of
thirds one third will embrace the changes with varying
degrees of enthusiasm, one third will see them as irrelevant to
themselves, and one third will disagree and resist either openly
or in secret. Duck suggests that we reinforce the first group,
educate the second, and attempt to convert the third by addressing
any legitimate questions or concerns they have. If their fears
and concerns are not addressed, they frequently infect the other
two groups, which can sabotage the change effort entirely.
Communication takes on new importance during implementation. It
is absolutely necessary to keep the change effort on track and
to ensure that each team member knows what the others are doing.
Avoid the trap of glossing over or ignoring parts of your change
plan that fail. Team members know when something has flopped,
and when you don't talk about a failure, the credibility of the
entire effort becomes suspect. Try focusing on learning from the
failures and incorporating that learning into modified plans.
Stage 4 Determination
This often forgotten phase is critical because teams often experience
"change fatigue" despite the results of their cumulative
effort. People get exhausted from prolonged expenditures of time
and energy rethinking their daily work and changing their way
of operating. Some team members will long for an excuse to quit
the hard path of transformation and resume the old ways. If the
focus on change continues and problems are addressed honestly,
progress and commitment can be kept alive. If not, the team may
fall back into stagnation. Test and re-test your assumptions about
the change, keep the positive, honest communication going, and
get as many team members as possible involved in evaluating and
modifying the change plan.
Stage 5 Fruition
Fruition is the phase during which all the hard work and long
hours at last pay off, and team members are optimistic and energized.
It is a period of relief, reflection, recognition, and congratulations.
It is important to take the time to celebrate the accomplishment
and embed into the team the new capabilities and attitudes that
have produced success. The more difficult the change process has
been, the more critical it is to have the learning explicitly
In every team, a danger awaits in fruition: celebration may turn
into self-congratulation. Fruition can breed complacency and a
belief that the Change Monster has been slain forever. In truth,
the monster is always lurking, looking for ways to pull the team
into stagnation again.
know that teams must continuously change in order to survive,
but they have to change in ways that bring strength rather than
distress to team members. That's why understanding Duck's 5-phased
change curve can make a positive impact on your next change effort.
The Change Monster is always lying in wait and ready for battle,
but by using the concepts in this book, your team will be better