Change Through Persuasion

by David A. Garvin and Michael A. Roberto

FACED WITH THE NEED for massive change, most managers respond predictably. They revamp the organization’s strategy, then round up the usual set of suspects—people, pay, and processes—shifting around staff, realigning incentives, and rooting out inefficiencies. They then wait patiently for performance to improve, only to be bitterly disappointed. For some reason, the right things still don’t happen.

Why is change so hard? First of all, most people are reluctant to alter their habits. What worked in the past is good enough; in the absence of a dire threat, employees will keep doing what they’ve always done. And when an organization has had a succession of leaders, resistance to ...

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