When you talk about organisational change, the term resistance to change often comes up. It is as if certain groups of people in your organisation intentionally won’t change – indeed, they resist it.
However, perhaps we should look at this phenomenon from a different angle. That is, how important norms and values become established within your organisation.
When an organisation has strong norms and values we would say that it has attained a high degree of resilience. One way you measure this resilience is the time it takes for newcomers to adapt to this resilient way of doing things. The point is that most of the time resilience is a really good thing for an organisation.
Companies getting stuck are basically becoming too resilient and this is where the term organisational inertia is helpful. When environments shift, groups within the organisation will see the need for change. These are often the people closer to the customer. Meanwhile the rest of the organisation continues to be strong and resilient.
Very often this is not intentional resistance, it is merely continuing on the ‘right path’. It is only when the organisation as a whole experiences enough dissatisfaction with the current modus operandi that the desire for change becomes bigger than than the resilience (or inertia).
If we would see resistance to change for what it really is – resilience to change – repurposing this resilience will become easier and more natural.