"The Change Curve” is one of those models which seems to have been around forever. It’s been a useful tool in explaining everything from personal grief after a loss, to understanding the response when we implement organisational change. Drop it into a Powerpoint presentation and I doubt whether many people would actually read the annotations it’s so familiar. However, I’m not sure that there’s ever been a better demonstration of the Change Curve than what people and businesses have experienced over the past 12 months - yet so many people that I encounter seem to be stuck down there at the bottom of the curve, failing to recognise and embrace the need to climb back up the other side and accept the challenges of the ‘new normal’.
At RSVP Design we’ve always been optimists at heart, but even here we’ll admit that we spent some time down there in the Neutral Zone, characterised by frustration and depression. We’d fairly rapidly moved through The Ending that saw face-to-face adult learning disappear overnight - the initial shock, then the denial that said “This will all be over in a few months”. The frustration and depression took over as our world slowed down to a crawl and we couldn’t see how we could bounce back. Yet there was always the strong desire to understand this phenomenon and this carried us through several cycles of learning:
“What do we need to understand about our new market environment?”
“How do we need to respond to our new market environment?”
The search for answers to these two questions hasn’t been easy, and we still don’t have clarity about what our understanding/response needs to be. However, it’s been a clear and positive focus for our activity that has reinforced our bonds as an organisation and channeled our creative problem-solving like never before. And we’re not alone, we’ve spoken to many organisations who have embraced the ‘new normal’ and are firmly situated on the up-curve - so what observations might we make about those organisations who have been successful in doing this?
At RSVP Design our way of working bears little resemblance to how we organised 12 months ago, and our success in riding the Change Curve has been down to a lot of commitment and hard work, but also to the implementation of a lot of the learning I’ve described above. Here are some highlights of what that approach has achieved: