Changing and Dying

In Robert Quinn's book "Deep Change," he talks about how change has to come within the leader before it can move to the organization. Early in the book, Quinn interacts with the idiom "change or die." Common thought within organizations is that they must either risk change, or risk death. 

Death can occur from change, just like it can occur from non-change. Change too quickly and the organization goes into shock and dies. Fail to change and the organization goes into atrophy and dies. Change management may be the trickiest role of the leader.

Quinn points out the most organizations choose the death of atrophy over the potential death of change because it's slower - the old frog in the kettle situation. He says,

"We actually seem to prefer slow death. Slow death is the devil we know, so we prefer it to the devil we do not know. The alternative... may appear to be the road to fast death. It certainly involves self-modification and deep change. Deep change requires discipline, courage, and motivation. We would rather experience the pain of slow death than the threat of changing ourself." 

Quinn goes on to say, "Change is hell. Yet not to change, to stay on the path of slow death, is also hell. The difference is that the hell of deep change is the hero's journey. The journey puts us on a path of exhilaration, growth, and progress."

If you're going to go through hell, you might as well do it as a hero, choosing the difficult path of progress rather than the appealing dead end of complacency.