The question ‘why is this necessary?’ is high up in the top 10 of most frequently asked questions about change.
The word ‘necessary’ says it all. The person asking it is asking about the need. He wants to know what the urgency of the change is.
Change agents often miss opportunities to strike a chord with others with their answers. The other person either shrugs his shoulders or continues to fight the change in all its ramifications.
I have collected seven of these unsupported answers. If you give these answers, you have not yet grasped the core of your sense of urgency. In that case, it is important to brood on it a little more first.
1. “Because it has to be done”
The fact that a decision has already been made is not the reason for the change. The urgency is the problem that the person making the decision wants to solve with it.
2. “Because otherwise we will be sanctioned”
Sanctions are the consequences of not changing. The urgency is the problem that the person imposing the sanctions wants to solve with the change.
3. “Because we need to be agile/future-proof/innovative”
Change is not a goal in itself. You can also destroy an organisation. The urgency lies not in the lack of change, but in the problem that you want to solve with the change, future vision or innovation.
4. “Because there are developments coming our way”
New trends are a reason for change, not the urgency. That is the problem that arises if you do not respond to it.
5. “Because it can always be better”
Everything can always be improved. But you can only spend every hour and every euro once. The urgency lies in the problem where improvement is most needed.
6. “Because there is an organisational problem”
The structure, the processes, governance, systems or ways of working are not a problem in themselves. Because the organisation is a means instead of an end. The urgency is how the organisational design hinders you in delivering performance to your customers.
7. “Because there is a problem around culture/attitude/leadership/behaviour”
What people are and what they do is not a problem in itself. The urgency is how their behaviour gets in the way of the organisation’s performance – often unintentionally
A solid urgency is about a performance problem; a lack of added value for your customers. The answer to the question ‘why is this change necessary?’ should therefore be about what you, as an organisation, are not yet doing enough to bring about in the outside world.
Annemarie Mars, April 2022