When you look at it, change projects are always about people. It’s not about the production lines or IT solutions or supply chain processes or budget cuts or distribution lines. Because behind each of these very important business topics sits a person, a team, a manager, sharing collective behaviors and mindsets in their own comfort zones. They do not want their order or stability to be altered in any way. No wonder it’s hard to implement change, because change is about people and people generally don’t like to change.
Protecting the rice bowl
And why do people dislike change? Because people are creatures of habit and therefore see change as bringing risks and uncertainties that disrupt or challenge their normal way of life. Changes that affect people’s jobs also affect the financial security and social status associated with those jobs. They also want stability and growth, as well as to be respected and never “lose face.”
People use an intricate web of relationships to influence all the changes that come their way to ensure that their way of life continues. In Asia, this constant vigilance and tireless maneuvering to ensure survival and growth is called “protecting your rice bowl.”
Of course there is nothing wrong with this. This is human nature and Maslow’s theory at work in different forms and ways all around the world, regardless of culture. However, this fear of losing one’s rice bowl, whether because of a board member, a union leader or a senior manager, is often the only reason why change implementations are sometimes challenged, delayed or destroyed in a company. Any change program that fails to adequately address people’s feelings, especially those of fear, will struggle to survive.
Different groups of people in a multinational company in Asia-Pacific
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