An Unusual Question about Managing Change


And, what about the people forced to endure this intentional chaos? Surely, they would have responded negatively. In response to whatever scheme Libby contrived to prolong the chaos, team members might have responded by working more slowly, taking sick days, inserting bugs into the works, or otherwise sabotaging the project. Or, they might have quit. Morale likely would have taken a hit along with productivity, and so, too, the team's trust in Libby. After all, who wants to work for a manager who seems bent on making people's lives miserable?

Finally, there's the ethical issue. Does anyone have the right to prevent an individual's or team's adjustment to change? At first glance, it might seem that the answer is no, but it's not that simple. Every organizational or technological change has some level of chaos associated with it as people cope with the loss of the old way and adjust to the new way. Still, it doesn't seem right to take steps to prolong chaos-even with good intentions—so as to spare the people involved a future bout of chaos.

Or, am I overlooking circumstances in which it would be appropriate?

There are a lot of angles to Gil's question and I'm still pondering them. What are your thoughts?

About the author

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten

Naomi Karten is a highly experienced speaker and seminar leader who draws from her psychology and IT backgrounds to help organizations improve customer satisfaction, manage change, and strengthen teamwork. She has delivered seminars and keynotes to more than 100,000 people internationally. Naomi's newest books are Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals and Changing How You Manage and Communicate Change. Her other books and ebooks include Managing Expectations, Communication Gaps and How to Close Them, and How to Survive, Excel and Advance as an Introvert. Readers have described her newsletter, Perceptions & Realities, as lively, informative, and a breath of fresh air. She is a regular columnist for When not working, Naomi's passion is skiing deep powder. Contact her at or via her Web site,

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