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This chapter is from the book

Change Myths

Education in leading change is lacking in standard curricula, but in addition, much of what is taught (canonically) in change leadership programs is untrue—based on dated research, urban myth, or folklore. Study the following list closely. How many of these change myths were you taught, still believe, or ring true? These 20 change myths are merely a sample of misconceptions about change that twenty-first-century science has exposed. Upcoming chapters cover each of these in detail. The specific chapters that deal with these myths are listed in parentheses:

  • You need a burning platform to drive change: Negative emotions motivate. (2, 7)
  • Trusting your gut is a reliable decision-making strategy. (5)
  • Rewards are at least necessary motivators and are sometimes sufficient. Behavioral change involves the right mixture of carrots and sticks. (7)
  • Consultant-experts provide an objective analysis of business problems. (5)
  • Benchmarking tells us what good performance looks like and fast followership is an effective strategy. (2)
  • When stakeholders dissent about a complex problem, bringing experts in to talk to them is essential. (8)
  • People know what they want, and will act rationally in pursuit of it. (5)
  • There is a natural, inevitable division between people who decide and people who do. (8)
  • A concrete budget and delivery plan, from which little deviation is permitted, are essential. (2)
  • Changing habits is about having a big goal to get you motivated. (6)
  • Giving people more information will alter their point of view. (7)
  • In times of complexity and chaos, the best solution template comes from prior experience. (4)
  • Change provokes an emotional response that follows the grief model—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. (8)
  • Worst-case estimates accurately assess the downside risk of par­ticular strategies. (3)
  • If you change hearts and minds, behavior follows along. (7)
  • Brainstorming (going for quantity of ideas first) is the best way to generate high-quality new ideas. (5)
  • Increasing worker engagement increases productivity and profitability. (9)
  • Involving many people slows progress. (8)
  • If a program goes badly, it is very important to quickly “get back on the change horse.” (5)
  • When things get difficult, people become more cautious. (3)
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