by Bob Whitesel, July 2005
One of my favorite management magazines, Fast Company, devoted the March 2005 issue to the topic “Change or Die” (Alan Deutschman http://www.fastcompany.com/52717/change-or-die). It is an important topic for firms to address, as well as for churches (as I hope you have seen from my book “Inside the Organic Church”). The article “busts some myths” about change. Here are two and an implication for bringing about change in your leadership collage.
Myth 1: Crisis is a powerful impetus for change: Alan Deutschman, senior writer for Fast Company, found that “90 percent of the patients who’ve had coronary bypasses don’t sustain changes in the unhealthy lifestyles that worsen their severe heart disease and greatly threaten their lives” (p. 55). The article points out that people just give up. They say “what’s the use?” and prepare to give in. So the import of this research is that a crisis will not “scare” 90% of a people into change. And thus, if we as church leaders try to say “you must change or die” the vast majority of our congregations will probably will not heed our warning. But, there is another myth that can help us deal with this conundrum.
Myth 2: Change is motivated by fear. As we saw above, an outgrowth of Myth 1 is that you can scare people into changing. But as we’ve seen in the medical profession, such scare tactics don’t bring about change (usually only generate aggravation towards the message-bearer, i.e. you 😦 Deutschman points out that people often go into denial when fear becomes too much to bear, stating “when a fact doesn’t fit our conceptual ‘frames’ – the metaphors we use to make sense of the world – we reject it” (p. 55).
Myth-busting Good News: There is good news! Medical researchers have found that people are motivated to change by “compelling, positive visions of the future” which “are a much stronger inspiration for change” (p. 55). That means that optimistic, persuasive, farsightedness that elicits our imagination can help us embrace change.