Dr. Curtis L. Odom Headshot

How to Make a Change -- And Keep It

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The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. ~ Isaac Asimov

It feels to me like this holds especially true in the world of business, particularly in how we constantly look to institute new structures, new processes and new innovations in the hope that it gives us an edge over our competitors.

I have seen organizations introduce the newest and greatest management theory only to replace it a few months later with another idea. I have seen CEOs turnover frequently in organizations and each time one leaves another one comes in to implement their change agenda.

I am not making a case that change is bad, but I am saying that for change to work, that is, for it to be sustainable, it needs to become a habit. And it feels like the only habit that we know right now is how to change. Not how to sustain it. We have been so inundated with the idea and the practice of change that we have become used to the idea that something will not stick. So automatically, we resist it.

We undermine it from the start, because our brain recognizes the cues and we revert into our traditional habits, which in this case is to shut down and revert into sleep mode. It is a normal response, for our brain to recognize a trigger and go into sleep mode. It is what allows us to drive home every night, or put on our clothes in the morning without going into intellectual overload.

The irony is that we are so wired for change, that we do not let the change play out because we expect it to fail or to get swept up in the tide of change and get pushed out before it even gets started, like so many of the initiatives before it.

Every time that you roll an initiative out that does not stick, you undermine the chance of the next change initiative actually working.

Real change requires new habits to be formed; remember this the next time you want to roll out the flavor of the week.