Dealing with change at work: John Pettigrew interview

On 19th July, over 100 publishers will meet at St Bride Foundation off Fleet Street to discuss how to deal with change at work. One of the panellists is John Pettigrew, Founder of Futureproofs. Here are some of this thoughts ahead of the event.

1) Why do you think that organisations resist change?

Don’t think about organisations; think about people. People resist change because they don’t see the point, and see all too clearly the cost to them.

2) How might you get all stakeholders on-board before initiating change?

Talk. Then listen. Then listen some more, and talk some more. If you haven’t communicated fully with the team before “initiating change” then you haven’t done your job properly. Not least, you won’t understand what the current situation actually is, which is crucial before suggesting any change to that situation.

3) What are the best communication channels for delivering change initiatives?

All of them. However the organisation normally communicates, use those channels for discussing change – email, memos, meetings, blogs, newsletters, whatever. But most important of all is face-to-face conversations.

4) How might you overcome resistance to change?

All resistance comes down to everyone’s calculation of cost against benefit. If you can show why the proposed change will actually make that person’s life a bit better, you’ll win them over. If the change will actually cost that person overall, then you need to show that it will at least make their colleague’s lives better. If all you can do is “the business will save money” then you yourself haven’t finished thinking the change through properly! (Hint: keep asking “why?” at least 5 times until you dig down to the real reasons.)

5) How do you analyse the impact of a change?

You have to know beforehand what the desired results are. All change should start with the question, “What can we make better?” Think carefully about what “better” means for you and have specific, measurable goals. Discover all the possible impacts of the change and measure each of those, before and after. Yes, it’s a lot of work – but if you don’t measure it, you can’t control it!
You can book your early bird ticket before 23rd June for United, we publish iii – click here.


  1. Steve Lowe

    I’d guess that many of us resist change because it’s too often simply implemented ‘for the sake of change’, and not for any actual financial or ergonomic benefit, either for the company or its employees. Where I used to work – in a large multinational – they were constantly replacing our computer operating systems every two or three years. This was supposedly for some kind of ‘improvement’, but inevitably only cost a lot of money to the company and caused us to have to undergo extensive training to use it (with inevitable delays & mistakes caused by having to learn a new way of doing things every few years). That continual process of ‘change for the sake of change’ probably cost the company a lot more in capital investment and lost production than it ever gained them in productivity.

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