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We all know change is hard — and so people resist it. Right?
Well, maybe not always. Chip Heath, a professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, gave an insightful presentation on that theme earlier this month at the World Innovation Forum conference in New York. Heath, who coauthored the books Made to Stick and Switch with his brother Dan, started his presentation with the conventional business wisdom that people resist change — and then quickly pointed out exceptions to that conventional wisdom.
Two of the notable exceptions, according to Heath? Marriage and having children. Both are dramatic changes — but people celebrate them happily.
Said Heath: “Who would sign up to work for a boss that phoned you up four times a night for trivial administrative duties? ” And yet, many couples nonetheless “sign up” to have babies. “Change is not always hard, because there are some big changes that we embrace,” Heath observed.
Why, then, do people often resist organizational change? Heath explained a number of principles about making change easier — and one of them involves engaging and motivating people’s emotional side.
By way of illustration, he offered a very funny parody of how a marriage proposal would sound if it were introduced like many business change initiatives are — complete with a PowerPoint presentation including cost-saving benefits expected from the marriage, such as savings on kitchen condiments. “How many successful marriage proposals would we make by making an intellectual argument?” Heath asked.