The History of Change Management
People have been working since the dawn of our time. Whether it was hunting or gathering, farming or nursing, warring, or leading, work has always been there. But, work has changed over time. With the discovery of fire, the creation of tools, and the ever-increasing complexities of our human societies, labor has evolved for most humans.
Understanding the Why
If we would focus solely on today’s modern workplace — the one you are probably familiar with — we would be missing out on why things came to be as they currently are. To better understand the current, it definitely helps to understand the past. Thus, a brief dive into history, similar to the previous articles about psychology, will aid in comprehending psychological insights into the way things happen in your work environment today.
Let me be frank about the scope of this all-too-brief overview of the history of work. No doubt I will be skipping numerous significant influential persons as well as events, but these articles are not intended as an all-encompassing encyclopedia of sorts. I will touch on topics that I see as highly influential still to this day, and therefore important to understand.
With so many organizational changes taking place, a new field of work emerged during the nineteen-sixties, namely change management. Many change management models and processes were based on grief studies. As consultants saw a correlation between grieving from the loss of a loved one and grieving among employees in an organization due to loss of jobs and departments, many early change models focused on emotions as employees mourned job-related transitions.
In 1962, in his work on the diffusion of innovations, Everett Rogers posited that change must be understood in the context of time, communication, and its impact on all affected participants. Placing people at the core of change thinking was a fundamental contribution to developing the concept of change management. Rogers proposed the well-known descriptive Adopter groups of how people respond to change: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards.