The Four Quadrants of Change

Change can provoke a mixture of emotions. It can fill us with excitement, and it can fill us with fear. It offers promise of a better future, and it carries with it the risk of uncertainty. It is not surprising that many people do not eagerly embrace change.

This can be particularly frustrating to business owners. We want to improve our business, and improvement means change. Yet, we cannot improve if our employees resist the necessary changes.

We often think that it will suffice to tell employees how beneficial the change will be. But the benefits of change are only one aspect that must be addressed. If we want employees to embrace change, we must address all four quadrants of change:

  1. The benefits of change
  2. The pain of change
  3. The benefits of the status quo
  4. The pain of the status quo

The failure to address all four quadrants is one of the biggest mistake that business owners make when trying to improve their business.

Consider a simple example: buying a new truck. The benefit of the change is a dependable vehicle. The pain the cost. The benefit of the status quo is the absence of a monthly payment. The pain of the status quo is the undependability and cost of maintenance.

If we don’t consider all of these, we may not make the best decision. If we only consider one of them, we are making a decision out of context. For example, if we look only at the benefit of the change, we are ignoring the cost. If we look only at the pain of the change, we are ignoring the cost of maintenance on our current truck.

The same applies to any change. This is particularly important when we want others to embrace change that we advocate. Further, we must address the four quadrants as they relate to others.

For example, we may think that a particular change will be good for the business. But how does that pertain to our employees? If we want them to embrace the change, then we must look at the pros and cons from their perspective. Only then can we effectively promote and implement change.

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