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The What, When, Where, Why, Who and How of Change?

Everybody has a prediction. If you put the word "prediction" into Google, then it says "About 912,000,000 results (0.61 seconds)." Is that all? Just about 1 billion? Change is personal, organizational, global. The coronavirus is the perfect example of all three. A global pandemic changes your organization's business model and you. According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the author of The Black Swan, it was so predictable. Indeed what seems unpredictable is becoming increasingly probable. What is increasingly probable are the "white swans." The truth is that we were lucky. The coronavirus was a wake-up call for a very probable pandemic that could wipe out much of humanity. We are the victims of what he called our "increased connectivity.” The global airlines are huge flying globlets of disease. You and I are lucky we are not stepping over the dead bodies of our family and neighbors.

Types of Change Events: "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"

Change events are like the 1966 Italian epic Spaghetti Western film starring Clint Eastwood. Even the so-called winners, like winning the lottery, come with a lot of pain and potential hazards. Actually the best real world analogy for change management is the cancer diagnosis. Once you get it, then only a fool pretends that it will go away. So you go after it 100% because your life depends on it. However, the more important takeaway, is prevention. You can't smoke two packs of cigarettes a day for 30 years and be puzzled by your having stage 4 lung cancer with a survival rate of 49% after one year. As a former smoker, I can tell you that smoking anything is stupid! In today's age, the corporation that ignores technological change is equally as stupid.



  • Reduction (Downsizing)

  • Software upgrade

  • Merger (Upsizing)

  • The Bad Apple and the Peter Principle

Socio-cultural: wars, famine, genocide, education, trends, religion, transportation

  • Business (retail: main street, mega-malls, Big Box, Amazon online)

  • Political: elections, movements (Black Lives Matter v. Make America Great Again)


Biological: pandemic

Natural: earthquake, tsunami, volcanic, hurricane/typhoon, climate change, meteorite. teutonic 

Economic: recession, depression

Scientific: chemistry, biology, technology, astronomy, physics

  • Technology: outer space, inner space, artificial intelligence, metallurgy, energy, computers and communications


Commodities: oil, coal, timber, metals, diamonds, livestock

Software upgrade. Beware! This is probably the most dangerous change due to its being to insidious. 

  • Reasons: old system, outdated, patched together now

  • The sales pitch.  Beware the carnival barker. It will take 4-10 times as long and cost you about the same.

  • Oregon examples (2)

  • Buy an off the shelf model. Get one that has been tested elsewhere and comes with reasonable updates. Avoid a custom made job tailored just for you. Let someone else have paid the price for being the software company's "loss leader."

  • Death to the project manager. This is the one time where  I am going to caution about being the change manager. Especially if you weren't in it from day one. If you boss comes to you and says "Hey, Jane, can you take over the software upgrade project? It really needs your helps." Don't do it! The odds of survival are worse than a Kamikaze pilot in WWII.


The Bad Apple and the Peter Principle. I have done numerous corporate audits where we have found that the "problem" that needs changing is not a strategic mistake, it is a human resource one. We have hired or promoted the wrong person for the job. What is worse is that if their short comings are ignored long enough, this person hires their clones creating a toxic unit(s). Sometimes we promote someone as a matter of convenience because they were the last man (or woman) standing or because we like them. 1-2-3. person complaining about a boss is acceptable. They don't get along. Two people is the original and a recruited friend. But three or more is problem that can't be ignored.

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