Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

November 20 2014

“We Are All in the Business of Change.”

Jill Formeister, Chair, GMC Communications Committee
Chris Clarke-Epstein summed up resistance to change by stating: “A lot of change is pronounced by someone else. When change is something placed on you, you resent it.” These were her opening observations in her presentation “It’s Such a Great Idea! Why Aren’t They Loving This Change?” She spoke at GMC’s Quarterly Education Program at Murphy Auditorium on Nov. 5.

Clarke-Epstein is an award-winning speaker, trainer, and author–and also PCMA Best-In-Class Speaker–whose presentations are designed to inspire people to look at their world from a fresh perspective, apply new knowledge, and make change.

She explained that change is so hard because it takes people out of their comfort zone. The more you are in your comfort zone, the less the brain has to work. “Organizations that stay in their comfort zone, with no changes, no new technology are left behind in the dust,” she said.

She quoted Marilyn Ferguson who said, “It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s the place in between that we fear.” Clarke-Epstein noted that, “Unless you step out in the stretch zone, you’re never going to grow. We’re all in the business of change. That’s why we have meetings.” Someone in the panic zone, however, cannot change and “is simply trying to survive.”

She explained the important role leaders play in realizing change. “The bigger the initiative, the more the leaders need to take front and center. In the absence of information, people make it up. When they make it up, it’s always bad. Even if leaders have nothing to say, they need to say something.”

She identified the underlying conditions for implementing change:
  1. People need to accept the need for change.
  2. People need to know what to do and how to do it.
  3. People are in a supportive climate.
  4. People are rewarded for change.
Many things we think of as rewards might not be perceived of as rewards by others. Clarke-Epstein recommended reading Daniel Pink’s book about motivation entitled Drive.

Her final suggestion about overcoming change resistance was, “Through it all, light it up with optimism.”