Question  of the week | Change fatigue

Fighting change fatigue with…snowballs?


FEBRUARY 27, 2017

Twenty years ago, if you started a funky initiative in your organization people sat up and took notice. Today, in large organizations, there seems to be a big new initiative every other week! In most organizations we come into, employees suffer from ‘initiative exhaustion’ or ‘change fatigue’.

This is not at all surprising. As human beings, we’re not really well-designed for rapid change. In fact, we’re actually more designed to maintain the status quo, because – for most of humanity’s history – the status quo wouldn’t get us eaten. Except in times of rapid change, like the kind of disruption we’re seeing now maintaining the status quo is exactly where the danger lies. Then (as in now) not changing will get you eaten.


“Organically. Snowbally.”

So how do we balance the current imperative to change with our innate reluctance to change? How do we avoid throwing in just another initiative into the already crowded mix? At Snowballs & Flywheels we’ve come up with a process that we like to think of as an “anti-initiative”. By starting with a small group of highly-connected people and working with them organically to come up with a clearly defined set of behaviours, we make change manageable and integrated into one’s daily work. We then support those behaviours in whatever way we can, based on what our highly-connected people ask for. And because they are highly-connected, they naturally influence others. Who then influence even more people. And so on. And so on… . Organically. Snowbally.


“‘A person like me’ is the most trusted, credible source for ideas.”

It’s less bells and whistles, but ultimately more effective because it is connected to what is already there. Embedded in people’s daily work. Coming from ‘people like me’, rather than from ‘management’, ‘head quarters’ or ‘corporate staff’. ‘A person like me’ is the most trusted, credible source for ideas (according to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer). And people copy their trusted peers’ behaviour as well. It’s change you trust, or barely even notice. So it’s less imposing, less scary and less tiring.


Photo by Forrest Jessee

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