Do we really want constant change?

Some Internet humour: “You know you work in corporate America in the ’90s if…” “You’ve sat at the same desk for four years and worked for three different companies,” “Your company welcome sign is attached with Velcro,” “Your resume is on diskette in your pocket,” and most tellingly, “Change is the norm.”
As is often the case, colloquial humour provides an insight into the current state of affairs.
“What this tells us is that organisations have embraced change with passion, and secondly that workers are more mobile and disposable than ever,” say the authors of the booklet Do we really want constant change?
So it’s time to stop and reflect on our attitudes towards change, they believe.
“Change isn’t new of course, but what’s different today is that we are experiencing constant change and its related disruptions,” they say.
“The common wisdom in popular management literature is that organisations must change and they must do so continuously.” While not opposed to change, they suggest that change has become almost an obsession.

Glorifying change
“Change and flexibility have become ‘god terms’ — terms that are accepted unquestioningly as good.
“Lots of things are done in the name of change. All you have to do is invoke the name, and change functions lot like ‘quality’, ‘efficiency’, ‘dialogue’ and ‘customer service’.”
One of the starting points is to distinguish change as means to an end from change as value in and of itself. “Managers have always looked for ways to change and improve [as have most other policymakers] but in recent years change itself has become the preeminent focus and value.
“The consequences of the past decade’s change frenzy may look good for some. The US economy had eight years of growth, because business pursued change oriented programmes, some would say. And recent economic reports applaud corporate restruct-uring and flexible approaches to work processes. But the effects of continuous change — downsizing, outsourcing etc, have been pretty grim for many.”

Theodore Zorn, Lars Christensen, George Cheney — Beyond the Bottom Line series,
Berrett-Koehler Communications

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