Change is inevitable and resistance futile

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Paul Harvell
  • 7th Airlift Squadron, senior enlisted
Think about this, 22 years ago I walked into my first unit, got the tour and was introduced to the aircrew scheduler. Sitting in front of him was a three-ring binder and set of colored pencils. Each pencil color represented a different event (blue for leave, red for mission, green for training, etc.) That was how they kept track of who was doing what in the unit. They had no computers, no email, and no cell phones!

Fast forward 22 years everything is computerized and schedulers text or message members training times and appointments. Almost everything has changed.

Change can be scary. How we react to change goes hand in hand with the success of the change effort. The first reaction to change is to resist. John Kotter and Daniel Cohen in their book, "The Heart of Change," outline four behaviors that lead to a resistance to change: complacency resulting from arrogance and pride; fear and panic, leading to self-protection and immobilization; a "you can't make me" attitude, caused by anger; and hesitation to start due to a pessimistic attitude.

Look at senior airmen through master sergeants, and their reactions to the change in the Developmental Special Duty assignment system. Can you pick out the behaviors you have seen or even exhibited? As Airmen in today's Air Force we must understand how to overcome resistance to change.

Communication is the key to overcoming any resistance. As leaders, at any level, we must understand the background behind the change effort and communicate effectively with those who will be impacted. Simply sitting down and explaining why the change is needed, letting them ask questions, and gaining that needed buy-in will help to alleviate some of the fear, anger, and pessimism associated with change.

In today's uncertain world, one thing is certain-change. We see it every day. Whether it is the physical fitness assessment Air Force Instruction, the DSD program, or the rumored changes to the Enlisted Performance Report and Weighted Airman's Promotion System, change is here and more is coming.

Leaders must foster an atmosphere of innovation by creating an environment where change is accepted and even encouraged. Change is inevitable; we must strive to understand it and embrace it.

I will leave you with the words of the legendary basketball coach John Wooden. "Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be."