Reply to Change Management is a Waste of Money

Monday, May 19th, 2008

My post titled Change Management is a Waste of Money generated a lot of comments. You can see some attached to the original post. One comment came as a call since the person didn’t want his company to know that he agreed with what I had to say.

And I got this e-mail from my friend, Bob Bryan, regarding the post. I like what he has to say, especially the distinction between training and learning.

“Training folks I know also tout butts-in-seats/CBT TRAINING as The Panacea. In addition to your point about leadership, an add’l error occurs when TRAINING is conflated w/LEARNING. Training is not learning; they are not the same things. Learning is the process of continually deciding what is working and what is not working in our constantly changing environments and effecting the necessary adaptations. Training can support a learning organization, but can subvert the nature of a learning organization if it becomes the prominent response to change.

The conflation of learning w/ training is an instance of the many ‘terrible simplifications’ that our culture perpetrates on itself.

When we overly simplify, we formulate a problem that does not exist. The resolution formulated for the false-problem not only does not attend to the problem, but exacerbates the original problem, and typically creates other problems that did not originally exist.  Additionally, when it becomes apparent that the false-problem’s resolution is not working, we do more of the same, which compounds and amplifies the situation further.  It is entirely normal for us (human beings) to go from a minor difficulty to a full fledged problem or cluster of problems; all the time without being aware of what is happening.

I view training-as-a-significant-enabler-of-organizational-change and ‘leaderless’ change initiatives as instances of ‘terrible simplification.’  Everything should be as simple as it can be, not simpler.

Or as H.L. Mencken may have put it, ‘For every complex problem, there is a simple answer, and it is wrong.’

I feel much better now having gotten that off my chest.”

Thanks, Bob.