Quotes on Change

In some upcoming blogs, I will be discussing change and how to significantly change and improve your business. The three keys for change are the following:

  1. Understand Reality, Face Reality
  2. Focus, Prioritize, Plan (Less is More)
  3. Right People Doing the Right Job

To whet your appetite for my upcoming, and oh so scintillating blogs on change, I share with you now some of my favorite quotes on change and change initiatives.

Quotes on Change

  1. “In history, it is self-evident that progress results from a change. But, change does not necessarily equate with progress.” Steven L. Goldman (Historian of Science)
  2. “It is always easier to talk about change than to make it.” Alvin Toffler
  3. “The only thing you know for sure is that if you do nothing, then nothing will happen. Nothing will change.” Bill Watkins (CEO of Seagate Technology)
  4. “The three stages of reaction to a change or a new idea:” (Ronald Reagan)
    1. “It is crazy. It will never work. Don’t waste my time.”
    2. “It is possible, but it is not worth doing.”
    3. “I have always said it was a good idea. I am glad that I thought of it.”
  5. “One challenge in change is the River Kwai syndrome. In the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai, the colonel was so focused on maintaining the morale of his men by building the bridge that he forgot the more important issue was to win the war. To the leaders of a change initiative, the success of the change initiative can often become the goal in and of itself, not the success of the overall business.” David Shedd
  6. “Your transformation as a leader must come before you can transform your business. To lead a change you as the leader must have already changed.” Wayne Smith
  7. “Sometimes the most difficult act of leadership is not fighting the enemy; it’s telling yourself and your friends that it is time to change.” Bill Gates
  8. “We must become the change we seek.” Ghandi
  9. “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Leo Tolstoy
  10. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank
  11. “Only 30% of executive surveyed consider their change programs successful.” McKinsey and Company Survey
  12. “A change initiative can go wrong when the fix is determined by the experts and then rolled out to the whole system. This ignores people and their potential for contribution and engagement. So the answer is to go to one plant, do the work there, make it a star performer, and then apply it to other plants. Once one plant takes it on, and there is a dramatic improvement, people say ‘Wow, what did you do?’ Then the change initiative can be replicated throughout the whole system.” Adam Farber (Boston Consulting Group Partner specializing in Lean Initiatives)
  13. “The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people, and behavior change happens in highly successful situations mostly by speaking to people’s feelings… In highly successful change efforts, people find ways to help other see the problems or solutions in ways that influence emotions, not just thought. John Kotter and Dan Cohen, The Heart of Change
  14. “People often resent change when they have no involvement in how it should be implemented. So, contrary to popular belief, people do not resist change, they resist being controlled.” Ken Blanchard
  15. “Tell me, I may listen. Teach me, I may remember. Involve me, I will do.” Chinese Proverb
  16. Erik Fyrwald of Nalco was asked about his to do list as a change agent CEO coming in from outside:
    1. “I spent the first weeks and months listening a lot – to the leadership of Nalco, talking to people across the organization. I traveled a lot. Got out there with customers all over the world trying to understand what we do well, what we didn’t do well, where they saw opportunities. Spent time with my leadership team, getting their view on what we needed to do and also assessing the leadership and who we really needed, and what other capabilities we need to bring in.”
  17. “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they cannot lose.” Bill Gates
  18. “Troubled companies are typically in denial and can’t understand why they’re in trouble and why they need to change.” Steve Miller
  19. “Most ailing organizations have developed a functional blindness to their own defects. They are not suffering because they cannot resolve their problems, but because they cannot see their problems.” Author John Gardner
  20. “He that is good with the hammer tends to think everything is a nail.” Abraham Maslow
  21. “In training camps, therefore, we don’t focus on the ultimate goal – getting to the Super Bowl. We establish a clear set of goals that are within immediate reach: we’re going to be a smart team; we’re going to be a well-conditioned team; we’re going to be a team that plays hard; we’re going to be a team that has pride; we’re going to be a team that wants to win collectively; we’re going to be a team that doesn’t criticize one another. When we start acting in ways that fulfill these goals, I make sure everybody knows it. I accentuate the positive at every possible opportunity, and at the same time I emphasize the next goal that we need to fulfill. If we have a particularly good practice, then I call the team together and say, “We got something done today; we executed well. I’m very pleased with your work. But here’s what I want to do tomorrow: I want to see flawless special teams work. If you accomplish that, we will be ready for the game on Sunday.” When you set small, visible goals, and people achieve them, they start to get it into their heads that they can succeed. They break the habit of losing and begin to get into the habit of winning.” Bill Parcells
  22. “When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur… Don’t look for the quick, big improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens- and when it happens, it lasts.” John Wooden
  23. “A small win reduces importance (“this is no big deal”), reduces demands (“that’s all that needs to be done”), and raises the perceived skill levels (“I can do at least that”). All three of these factors will ten to make change easier and more self-sustaining.” Karl Weick
  24. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.” Serenity Prayer
  25. It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin
  26. “The only person who likes change is a baby with a wet diaper.” Mark Twain


About David Shedd

David has been a President - CEO - COO of an up to $350M group of manufacturing, distribution, specialty retail and services companies, having led 22 different businesses from turnarounds to start-ups to fast growth companies.
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