Why is ‘change management’ hard?

Little children ask questions, observe the world and are full of ideas. These are qualities that are innate to us.

However, in the last two centuries, the industrial revolution has called for centralization, authority and obedience. During this era, a handful of industrialists controlled the flow of ideas even as the vast majority were merely required to stay in line and follow orders.

The industrialists designed school systems to churn out factory workers. They replaced democracy with authority and contribution with obedience. Our schools had assemblies, while industries had assembly lines. Like factory workers, school children wore uniforms. We were sorted into standards and grades. We passed or failed quality tests and were certified. The most obedient students were rewarded and elevated.

This ploy worked for the last two centuries. However, in the last two decades, the rise of the internet has spoil the party. The best ideas can now originate anywhere in the world and propagate at the blink of an eye across its surface. In the post-industrial era, we need to replace obedience once again with contribution. Look around and you will notice how the world’s best companies prefer recruiting creative upstarts rather than their obedient peers.

As the generation that is currently employed, we find ourselves sandwiched between two eras – one where we were conditioned to obey and one where we are required to contribute. At the crux of the challenges behind ‘change management’ and ‘digitalization’ programmes is the tension between the two worlds that we now straddle.

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