In Change Management, Emphasize What Will Stay the Same
To build support for a project that will result in change in a given organization, a strong, defined vision helps outline why change is needed. The general consensus is that by explaining how the envisioned change will result in a better future, leaders can overcome any and all resistance to change. But new research is adding a very important caveat to this. A root cause of resistance to change is that organization staffers and members identify with and care for their organizations as they are and have been. People fear that after the change, the organization will no longer be the one they value and have come to identify with. The higher the uncertainty surrounding the change, the more they fear such threats to the organizational identity they hold dear.

In this regard, the best change management should not emphasize what is good about the envisioned change and bad about the current state of affairs. That will only stoke fears as it intimates that the forthcoming changes will be fundamental and far-reaching. Effective change management emphasizes continuity — i.e., how what is central to "who we are" as an organization will continue and be preserved despite the upcoming changes. In other words, to overcome resistance to and build support for a change, organizations should communicate an appealing vision of the future in combination with a respectful assessment of the past. If they are unable to do that, leaders may have to brace themselves for resistance.
Harvard Business Review (08/15/18) Venus, Merlijn; Stam, Daan; van Knippenberg, Daan
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