Making Change Easier

I’ve been thinking a lot about change lately, and why it seems to be so hard for some people and fun and exciting for others.  Though maybe it’s not the people, but the circumstances.  

A case in point.  I’m a member of the board of directors of a retirement community.  We’re looking at doing some major redevelopment and upgrading on our campus.  Some of the residents love the idea: they see possibilities for enhanced programs, updated spaces, more choices – a better environment in which to live.  Others are unhappy and angry, upset at plans to ‘destroy’ their homes, to force changes on them that they don’t want, don’t need, and certainly don’t wish to pay for.  The former group sees an enhanced, wonderful, exciting world in which to spend their time; the latter sees only disruption, noise, dust and upset.  Since they’re all looking at exactly the same plans, why do they see things so differently? 

I think in part it’s probably about their basic personalities: some people love change, some don’t.  But it’s more than that.  The residents who are most enthused are those who have been a part of the planning, attended meetings, given input and seen that input become part of the plan.  They’ve been involved in lengthy conversations with aging services experts, architects, designers.  In short, they have ownership.  Some of their neighbors have only suspicion and angst: what will this do to my home?  They feel that change is being forced on them. 

My lesson from this is pretty clear: to the extent possible, involve those affected by changes in the design of those changes, and the likelihood that they will be supportive and even enthused goes up exponentially – even if their basic personalities are not ones to welcome change.  ~DS

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