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"Done to me" Vs "Done by me"

Not everyone sees Change as bad. People see Change as good or bad depending on whether they or someone else initiates it.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter (Harvard Business School professor and author of SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good) observes that Change is "always a threat when done to me, but it is an opportunity when done by me."

In her HBR Voices article, Rosabeth continues "Many people hate change because it is inflicted on them; someone else is making them do it. On the other hand, people change all the time and love it, because they go after something they want - a new venture, a new book, a new spouse, a new baby, a new home, a new career step. In fact, when change is someone's chance to act on personal goals, it is not even called change. It is just my project."

Do you think this simple observation is a helpful tool for Change leaders?


  1. Fabulous Post!

    What it means to me is that people will make the change if they are

    a) convinced of the need for the change and
    b) of the benefit it will bring them as individuals and
    c) if they have (or least seem to have) a genuine say in deciding the shape of the change.

    All of the above must happen for them to take the plunge.

    As change managers, we need to attempt to achieve the above. To do that we must (corresponding to each of the points above)

    a) Try to get buy-in for the change bottom up…so many change initiatives fail because it is pushed top down…if Rosabeth Moss Canter is right, then we have no choice but to get bottom up buy in.

    b) We need to ensure that we can articulate the benefit for that individual as a result of the change. So, saying ´This is great for our company´ or that ´It will make our jobs easier´ are insufficient. It has to be ´You will benefit from the change in these ways´

    c) Lastly, involving the individual in shaping the change. If you are implementing a new software application, get the user community involved and not just the managers. Let them feel they are doing the project and they are deciding the functionality. Then, if Rosabeth Moss Canter is right, they will view the new ERP project at work just like they view buying a new LCD TV at home.


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