Prelude to Resistance
Personally, you and I, we know change. We have felt it. It is palpable; sometimes painful. Any parent can describe the extreme changes the first-born brings. In an organization, there is continual fluctuation as a company’s reality is punctuated by a variety of forces (Romanelli and Tushman, 1994). Ask any public elementary school principal how she has had to adjust in response to cutbacks in state funding. Waxing or waning resources can bring change across whole industries (Pfeffer and Salancik, 2003). Ask recording industry executives about the effect the iPod has had on their sector. George Orwell demonstrated convincingly that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and reality affirms that the currency of power is a powerful driver of change. The lessons of AIG, Lehman Brothers, and brokers of credit default swaps in the first decade of this millennium prove the point. The calamity of the ensuing economic meltdown has led to change, whether you wanted it or not (Gilgeous and Chambers, 1999).
Change can cause anxiety. Those who have tried to quit smoking or lose weight with the latest product or fitness fad know it full well. If we could reach out and touch it, we would see that the change puzzle has many sharp edges. If we were to draw a picture of change freehand, it would no doubt include an illustration of the friction between two or more abrasive areas. In almost every substantial organizational change equation, there are those who resist and those who push change forward (Burke, 2008). Which one you are will depend heavily on how you expect the change to affect you (Demers, 2007).
In many organizations ordinary people are asked to drive change, and many are able to do so successfully. These champions can motivate positive