Different people respond to change in different ways, and here is a pair of responses which I’ve not seen discussed in any of the Change literature I have come across.
Fore-warned is fore-armed
Don’t trouble trouble, till trouble troubles you
I like contingency plans: for me the big benefit of thinking ahead of major change events is that action is not driven by emotion. Instead, it has been thoroughly thought through ahead of time. If things are uncertain, then one may need several well thought-through plans: if there’s any good cheese in the Farmer’s Market we’ll have a cheese-board, otherwise I’ll make crème brûlée.
However there are many people who want to have all the facts laid out fair and square before making decisions about what to do and what not to do. They find thinking about hypotheticals too, well, hypothetical. The big advantage of this approach is that by being open to happenstance, they can take advantage of the fresh raspberries and make Pavlova.
To take a more realistic example, I was discussing this with a professional breaker of bad news, a hospital doctor, and she said that her patients had one of two responses when she ordered tests:
What’s the worst it could be, Doctor? I need to think this through before my wife visits.
Don’t tell me what it is until you know. I’ll deal with it when we know what it is.
What’s the practical application of this?
Firstly, add it to the lenses that you use with other people, so that you don’t consider it to be a sign of a character flaw or unprofessionalism if someone deals uncertainty in a different way from you.
Secondly, take it a step further and play to the person’s strengths. I’d bet folding money that the first group work best with formal methodologies, governance, planning and delivery and that the second group prefer agile development, incident management, service and support.
Thirdly, accept that you cannot get the timing right with Transformation and Change communications. If you withhold the big picture until the details are all worked out then you’ll annoy the first group, but if you signal things early and you’ll unsettle the second.
Who said it was easy?