People don’t want to change


And that’s your own fault!

“Oh, you work in change? Well, I’m not a big fan of change.” If I got a pound for every time, I heard this, the bank would happily open an extra account. If you take the trouble to talk to people, it turns out that hardly anyone has a problem with change. Huh?

People are constantly changing. They move. They change cars, mobile phones, clothes and more. And I’m not even talking about the food. Every day is different. The shopping streets are once again full of viewers and buyers of new things. Consumption is also change. But that’s another change. People (almost) choose this change themselves. I briefly pass by possible peer pressure, influencing and copying behaviour.

Yet we notice in the working environment that boards and managers complain that people do not want to change. Projects are stuck. Stand-up meetings often get in the way. Kick offs are quickly followed by turn offs. And yet everyone starts projects in the same way every time. Who wouldn’t want to change?

Of course, people want to be part of the change. If you include them in your story. But how? What can I do?

  • Convincing. People participate if you manage to convince them. Well, convince? With persuasion you come up with facts and figures. This shows that it is very wise to participate.
  • Steering. You could also steer by, for example, creating a situation or environment in which they choose the direction that you have in mind. Perhaps you make the alternatives so unappealing that your direction stands out as the only right choice.
  • Moaning. Or just keep nagging so that people give up their resistance and choose your solution. Just to get rid of it. I don’t mean partners or in-laws at all. But social pressure is a powerful weapon.
  • Forcing. In a hierarchy it is always possible to stand your ground. That way you can force a decision. Not necessarily bad, but it doesn’t always feel good. It completely ignores our need to be allowed and able to choose for ourselves.

Of course, there are times when the above solutions do work. The question is whether it only works at that moment or whether it has a lasting effect. How so? Let’s make a sidestep. Let’s say you want to go on holiday to Sweden with family or friends. How are you going to get them to come along very much? By convincing them to send of? Maybe by forcing or just continuing to moan? If I’m going to convince, with facts and figures, then my story is going to look a lot like a Wikipedia page.

If I’m going to steer, I have to make the alternatives much less attractive. Then I talk about horror holidays of friends of mine to other countries. What problems they had there. And how traumatic that impact has been. Not the right way? Then I could still play the moaning card Then I ask all the time if anyone wants to go to Ikea with me. Or why there is no knäckebröd on the table. Or that I only want to watch Swedish TV series. My roommates will be delighted, probably. Not the right way either? Then forcing remains. Always successful. But not for the atmosphere! As long as the children were small, they had no choice or say and went with us where we wanted. Like it or not they were forced. They didn’t care then. Now that’s different. We still have the final vote. But it is wise that we involve them.

Think about how you can take people with you, in this case to Sweden? Yes, indeed by warming them up for the journey. By telling them that the Swedes are very nice people. That you can eat delicious food in Sweden. That there is space to spare. And silence. A lot of silence. Okay, that will be, but what do we notice? Then you describe what it will be like when you travel in Sweden. What the day will look like. What you are going to do, are going to experience. How it smells. What you see and hear. So extensive that you already take them, as it were, to that moment. And so strong that they don’t even want to go back. And that’s what we call “seducing”!

That’s how you do it with your business plan or case. Describe it in such a way that people feel what it is like when the plan is ready. Entice them to come along. Tempt them to take the inconveniences for granted as well. Why? Because they knew that these were there and that it is only temporary. You get the people from your organization along by really selling the goal.

But also, by being very honest and telling them that the trip may not always be comfortable.  At the time of traveling, you no longer have the convenience of everything you have at home. And also, not all the facilities of the final destination. The trip may have a little less legroom, not the best seats or the inconvenience of waiting at, or in front of, a toilet. And that’s not to mention a feeling of hunger, thirst, or fatigue.

In short, more often take the business aloof out of your business and focus on what can make and break your change, the people. Take them along by getting them excited about your story. And if you just can’t tell your plan enthusiastically, then it’s either not worth executing. Or you call me, and we see together why it makes sense to implement. Then we look together how the idea can be told in a strong story.

Have a good trip!




More about group dynamics and change in
  • the blocks (chapters) “to communicate” and “to visualize” in our book Cement (in Dutch)

Edwin is not just a visionary expressed through his longreads, but also adept at conveying his ideas through presentations and real-world client interactions. He is a lover of Scandinavia and that's noticeable. Through an array of examples and metaphors, his infectious enthusiasm becomes a catalyst for inspiring, motivating, and fostering connections among individuals. Collaborating closely with his wife and partner, Mirjam, Edwin leads individuals through periods of change. Their shared mission revolves around forging impactful connections – connections that ignite leadership inspiration, foster team cohesion, and catalyze organizational transformation.

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