The story that never ends

Published by Tony Quinlan on

I don’t really believe all the talk of change fatigue I hear.

Oh, I don’t deny that some people get tired of constant change programmes running, but that’s a different thing altogether.

(I also don’t agree with that old change management cliche "No-one likes change except a baby with a wet nappy."  Wrong on both counts – there’s someone who’s never chased a toddler whose nappy is threatening to solve any water shortage)

If change is a journey, or a story, then it needs a number of pieces – the first being a beginning, which is where we tend to put lots of attention and action.  In change programmes, we work hard on starting things with a big bang, creating a buzz, getting everyone’s attention.
A good story, however, also needs an ending.  Or "closure" to use US drama terms.  Or "completeness" if you’re into some personal development patterns.

Yet too few organisational change projects, or indeed any project, finish.  There’s never a line drawn under them to say "we did that – and it’s over."

Usually, they’re quietly dispersed to the back of the room amid hopes that no-one notices them anymore or asks any awkward questions.
Leaving those involved – particularly on the periphery – with the uncomfortable feeling that there’s something else left undone.  And I think that’s really at the root of what people describe as "change fatigue" – it’s actually the residue of too many change projects started but never finishced.  It’s the nagging feeling that there’s still something left undone that may come back to bite us.

Take a look back through the past 12 months of organisational communication – newsletters, speeches, intranet posts, posters, etc – and see how many projects or programmes got started.  Now look for how many got finished or closed off.  Did any?  Start closing them now.  Publicly.