Change Is Easy

One of the most frustrating things for me to hear is the often-flippant remark made in the face of challenges: "well… change is difficult".

Hmmm… I think I will disagree. The response is often made in reference to the effect a change would have on employees or other stakeholders. In some cases, people might expect that the change would add hours or work or other inconveniences to an already-packed workweek. Yes, that change will be difficult. But the baldness of the comment makes it sound like anyone who is unenthusiastic about change is just a whiner. As if the knowledge that changes are sometimes "difficult"'should be enough to convince you to get moving.

I've spent a good deal of my career doing work intended to improve efficiency. It's like a game to me, to try to find a way to make things better for someone in simple or complex ways. And I can tell you from experience: Change doesn't have to be difficult.

Once, not terribly long ago, I got a taxi ride by hailing a cab in the street. Then I made a change to Uber, which was easy. A few weeks ago, I discovered that a rental car company was out of intermediate vehicles. They changed my reservation to a premium model, which I found very easy to accept. There was a time when I had to wait for my favorite song to show up on the radio. Then I made the change to Spotify, which makes listening very easy. When my grandmother was a girl, the household commode was in the backyard. Then the family got a water line and added an indoor bathroom; I can imagine that change was very easy for them. A couple of years ago, Nigeria was nearly stopped in its tracks by the Ebola virus. Then the trend changed, disaster was averted and life was able to return to normal.

In these instances, change wasn't difficult at all. It was easy.

If a change makes my life easier, then I'm all for it. If a change is going to make my life harder? Well, that's another matter…. Is there another benefit? Will it make life better for someone I care about? Will it improve my community? Will my employer make more money? It's not "change" that's difficult, it's ill-conceived, one-sided, inconvenient, inefficient, costly, poorly-executed change that is difficult.

Change is easiest to accept when I myself benefit by the consequences. But I'm also a team player, still willing to tolerable change that makes my life a little worse, as long as I can see the impact it has on friends, or family, or colleagues, or customers.

What I'm not willing to accept – nor should any of us – is change that makes things worse, with no discernible benefit to anyone . That's when we need to say, "time to go back to the drawing board… this change needs a little more change of its own".

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