03 Jul 2012

We live in a world of constant change.  Some individuals adapt quickly to change while others allow change – whether at work or in their personal lives – to  completely disrupt their lives.  This aspect alone keeps change management consultants, counselors and medical personnel in business. 

In a recent Harvard Business Review interview (Harvard Business Review, March 2012, page 32), author Daniel Oppenheimer, found despite what we are taught; that is, to focus our written presentations with easy to read font, whether it be color or size, may not be the best strategy if we want our audience to actually recall the information.  Although the findings of this work are counterintuitive, they make sense.  If the font is more difficult to read because of the size, color or just different than what we typically are accustomed, readers are forced to slow down and read more carefully which, in the end, increases recall and comprehension. When readers experience disfluency, or something difficult to read or comprehend, confidence levels decline and this (alone) causes them to focus on processing what they are reading even more so.   

What do hard-to-read fonts have to do with change in an organization?

In this day and time, organizations are acquired, purchased, and merged together. in an effort to maintain or leverage their place in the competitive market.  Unfortunately, when an organization experiences a major change, it’s not uncommon to lose key individuals who are instrumental to its success.  Although seemingly different than the difficult to read font to increase focus and processing, is it really that different?  Using the same principle of changing from the norm to improve understanding:

  • If organizations consciously inflict more frequent change, will employees’ confidence levels decline initially but ultimately, become more confident in dealing effectively with change? 
  • Will inducing more frequent change in the workforce (whether it is a change in organizational structure or simple process) prevent complacency or improve resiliency?
  • Will inducing more frequent change in the workforce cause an overload of change; therefore producing an ineffective work environment risking loss of key personnel?

What questions do you face at your organization as it relates to change? If you have questions about the best ways to best manage change, send us your questions in the comments and we’ll answer them.

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