Friday, May 3, 2013

More Commitment isn't Always Better

But I thought more was better?
By now, you have probably viewed the very funny AT&T commercial featuring the girl explaining why she thinks more is better ...

(only 30 seconds if you want a quick laugh)

Not exactly a ringing endorsement for more being better!

The Conner Commitment Curve
No, I am not messing with a classic.  Daryl Conner's Commitment Curve is a classic! It was the most progressive model on commitment to change in 35 years after Lewin's journal article on the 3-stages.
Daryl was very intentional about the term he used ... SUPPORT.  Daryl is a practitioner.  Since the publication of this model in 1982, scholarly researchers have been trying to test out theories of workplace commitment.  The results have not exactly been spectacular.

Scholarly Research
Rather than bore you to tears with the research, I'll just feature the one basic tenet of commitment research from Daryl Conner's curve to 2012:

More affective commitment is better.

2013 Scholarly Research
Published in the first part of 2013, a group of Australian researchers found that more affective  commitment is NOT better.  They found that affective commitment (i.e. desire for a change) has a ceiling.  

So what's the big deal?
(you may be thinking)

Well, this means that scholarly researchers are finally finding ways to show that human behavior is not linear.  While you may think that is an obvious assumption, it is this linear mindset that drives change management failure.

Here is an illustration of the Morin et al. (2013) finding:
Coetsee Proof
Change Management theorist Dr. Leon Coetsee (from South Africa) has been suggesting a nonlinear relationship between resistance and commitment for years.  For the past decade, here is how Dr. Coetsee has depicted that relationship in his classes and with his clients:
Dr. Coetsee makes the case that too much commitment, what he calls overcommitment, leads to resistance.  

I must confess that I really didn't "get it" when he first sent this model to me last year.  The Morin article must have jarred the rocks in my head loose and I now see that Coetsee's view on resistance-commitment is how many view the performance-stress relationship.

I'll be honest ... I'm not exactly sure where to go with all this.  But I do know one thing for sure:  the "more is better" mentality underlies change management failure.  It is linear thinking in disguise.

One size fits all doesn't work for organizational change.  And yet, that fact hasn't stopped many of us to continue creating new one size fits all change management methods.

How do you strike the balance between the swiftness of one size fits all and the adaptability of accommodating for individual differences?


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