Consequences Of Change

Livestock Sales

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Change is a constant. Every day is new and different. We accept that, adapt and move forward, probably because most daily changes are out of our control. But changing those things we do control – our daily routine, our eating habits, our exercise regimen – is a major hassle. Even changing something at work is difficult.

Many will conclude from this that we are resistant to change, which is not true. We are resistant to one of the two outcomes of change, success or failure, and I don’t think many folks fear success. So, the resistance to change is rooted in the fear of failure.


Managing fear

To manage that fear I have found that an examination of consequences, both negative and positive, enables us to facilitate change when warranted and postpone change when not appropriate. Let me explain.

Back at the turn of the century, the entire world dealt with an impending crisis called Y2K. There was a real possibility that the date function in every software program would be unable to recognize the transition to the year 2000. Banks would fail, planes would fall out of the sky, the electric grid would crash and chaos would reign.

We knew this potential problem existed back in the ’70s and ’80s, and did nothing about it. Why? Because there were no consequences to inaction in the ’70s and ’80s. We didn’t get serious about the problem until the middle ’90s when the consequences became a real possibility.

Another classic example is the statistics available on men over 50 regarding exercise and proper diet. We all intellectually understand the value of a well-balanced diet and a regular exercise program. Many of us have even begun either one or the other, and we have kept it up for some short period only to slip back into a sedentary life style and unhealthy nutritional habits.

However, there is one group of men over 50 who have maintained a healthy diet and regular exercise program for an extended period. In what way are these men different than most men? This second group have all survived their first heart attack. They have experienced the negative consequences of inactivity and poor diet. This group would be much larger but most men don’t survive their first heart attack.

Negative or positive consequences are great motivators in helping people embrace change. Conversely the lack of consequences, either negative or positive, will only reinforce the status quo.

Understanding the role of consequences in change management is an essential component of every sales kit, regardless of your industry.

If you are on the outside looking to get in, it is important that you help the decision maker think through any of the negative consequences with maintaining the status quo and the positive consequences associated with the change you are recommending. It is important that the decision maker come to the conclusions themselves, but they may need some assistance from you with subtle questions like “Have you thought about the repercussions of…?” or “Have you considered the potential upside of …?

Important here to note that if, after your assistance, the decision maker still is unable to see any consequences to inaction, then it is time for you to move on.

If you are on the inside and trying to protect your business from a competitive assault, then your strategy is to point out all the negative consequences of changing (i.e. inventory, new SKUs, different protocols, potential adverse reactions, etc.).

In any event, positive and negative consequences are your friend in making change seem less or more risky depending on your current position within that customer.


Patrick T. Malone is a Business Advisor and Leadership Mentor based in Blairsville, GA. He is the co-author of the best-selling business book Cracking the Code to Leadership and may be reached at [email protected] or 706-835-1308.