If I say that changes are executed by humans and changes impact humans, it is not huge news, almost everyone would realize this. Right? What if I say NO! I am sure that everyone would realize it at the moment in time; however, as soon as they have the realization, they will forget it or something more important captures their mind. This has been our experience when we address organization changes.

The best way to resolve any problem in the human world is for all sides to sit down and talk. – Dalai Lama

Is it the intention to drop the human side of change?

Of course it isn’t, no question about it. In my opinion it is the “environment” that is competing against everybody. Neglecting the creation of a safe environment, where people can fail, learn, teach, and grow in parallel with the organization is the root cause of this unintentional neglect with regards to the human side of change.

How to create a safe environment?

There is more than one way to do it. Humans are a most complex machine, and each group of humans together are able to build a unique ecosystem with complex relationships. Here is a list to keep in mind and adapt it to your ecosystem for a safe environment:

  • Communicate a clear vision and mission for your organization and for each team.
  • Help people to align their personal growth objectives with those of the organization.
  • Provide feedback to everyone and ask for feedback from everyone often (avoid waiting for the right opportunity, by then it is too late). This is applicable to all levels of the organization.
  • Find what motivates your people, and use it as input to keep them motivated. By the way, if you are paying the right salary, forget about a money bonus to increase motivation.
  • Say THANK YOU to your employees and explain why. It is a powerful way to motivate them, and it is free for you.
  • Create the place to listen to ideas from everyone.
  • Close the loop of ideas meeting. It is insane to think that an organization will deploy every single idea coming from their employees; however closing the loop shows respect for their ideas, and it is motivation for them to continue to provide you with more ideas.
  • If the organization has a problem, consult your people, create a solution “inclusive”, and avoid the “exclusion” and the “one man make all decisions”.
  • Create the space to allow self-organization.
  • Don’t become a micro-manager.
  • Coach your people.
  • Create space to try new things … to fail … to teach … to learn. The key here is your time cycle. If you are going to try something that could take 6 or 8 months before you see results (either success or failure), it is not very interesting and maybe it does not add value to the organization. However, if you define something to try that has a much shorter time cycle then this makes much more sense.

The human side of change presented in a model

For this point, I want to share a model that explains this point very well. Let me share with you “Fisher’s Personal Transition Curve” from John Fisher.

John Fisher (Leicester University) is a well-respected business psychologist whose work on constructivist theory in relation to service provision organizations produced a model in 1999 of personal change, The Personal Transition Curve, which provides us with an analysis of how individuals deal with personal change. This was updated in 2012 and represents a development of The Change Curve, widely attributed to psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and her work on the process of bereavement and grief.


John Fisher model define 8 status:
1. Anxiety and Denial
2. Happiness
3. Fear
4. Threat
5. Guilt and Disillusionment
6. Depression and Hostility
7. Gradual Acceptance
8. Moving Forward

Some people move more quickly through the stages than others. Deciding factors are their temperament, life experiences, degree of control and so on. People may also regress to an earlier stage depending on their situation.

If you are undertaking an organizational change, you must consider the stages of this model to better understand the human side of change. It is important, for example, to be aware of what stage people are in the model at any moment, and to help them to move forward. Doing this, you will dramatically increase the success rate of any change you will execute.

You, as an organization could delegate this to your favorite consultant company. However, you have to keep in mind that it is your responsibility for the implementation of this human side of change or find somebody else to take this responsibility. Accountability is not the same thing as responsibility. Accountability – you can delegate it, responsibility you can’t. More about accountability, responsibility, and their differences here.

If you want details of each stage, please visit this site where you will find the full description of this model.

This model is part of the DNA of each Exploration Program at ZettaGo Consulting Group; however, maybe it is not your case. If you have to retain something from this article, please keep in mind that the human side of change is you and your colleagues, all of you react with different emotions and feelings to the same stimulation (aka the change). Keep your mind open, and try to address all concerns, fears, and question about any change you will implement. It will slow down your change a little bit, but it will add a dramatic increase to your success factor.

Organizational goals are very important, but in our opinion organizations are a group of people, so we must show a lot of care and understanding to the human side of change.

Thank you,
Omar Bermudez
Your People Wiz, Change Artist, and Creator of Happiness.