Are You Handling Change as an Event or as the Steady State?


Marge Combe

Wisconsin, USA

“Here’s the situation,” said Steve, the CEO of a medium-sized health care organization with multiple locations.  “We’re not dealing with just one enormous change at a time any more.  We can’t fully adapt ourselves to one before we have to get everyone ready for the next one.  And there are three more – that we know of – waiting in the wings and dependent on the success of the current ones.  Even though we try to do a good job of change management, and bringing people in on the changes, we can’t slow down the train to be that deliberate with each change.  We’ve got to become unconsciously competent at absorbing change.”

Chris Worley, of the respected Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, agrees with Steve.  He argues that even the most respected models of change management all make some faulty assumptions about change:

  • That a change will at some time be over.  Ask Steve about getting people to use the medical records system properly two years after its implementation.  Ask him when their data will be trusted.
  • That you can adequately prepare people in advance for what is essentially an unnatural event.  Ask any new parent how much their parenting classes and books helped them in the first three months of exhaustion and inexplicable crying and disjointed schedules.
  • That a view of the future can be handed down.  How many of us are in the profession our parents expected to see us practicing and encouraged us to pursue?

Worley makes the case that in today’s business environment, change is the steady state, not the exception to business as usual.  And because adaptation to change is never easy and no one can be adequately motivated or prepared for it, it requires rethinking our essential business operational norms and processes.   Steve was clear in his own mind that becoming unconsciously competent at absorbing change was critical for his business.  And he was equally clear that he had no earthly idea how to do that.

Here are some things Steve is now thinking about, to build the ‘unconscious competence for change’ in his organization:


To read entire article (click here)

About the Author

marge-combeMarge Combeflag-usa

Wisconsin, USA

Marge Combe is a coach/consultant with Vernal Management Consultants, LLC (VMC), a firm specializing in the professional development and effective business practices of leaders and leadership teams (www.vernalmgmt.com).  VMC currently coaches a number of leaders and business owners in the project management profession, in North America, Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific Rim, and South America.  Marge joined VMC in 2008 after more than 35 years in portfolio management, strategic planning and large-scale change management for Northwestern Mutual and Whirlpool Corporation.   She has leveraged that experience and a passion for coaching and mentoring into a consulting and leadership coaching role with special focus on her roots: change management, strategic planning, and project management.  Marge is a former PMI board director and Chair of the Strategic Planning and Program Alignment Committee.  She was instrumental in shaping and leading a Fortune 500 Project Management Benchmarking Forum.  She is certified in coaching through Lominger International and in emotional intelligence through the Institute for Health and Human Potential.  She received the 2007 Woman of Influence Award for mentoring, and the 2010 Leadership Excellence Award from Marquette University.  Marge can be contacted at [email protected].

To View other works by Marge Combe, visit her author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/marge-combe/