Napoleon and Implementing Change

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Whenever an organization is engaged in implementing change, there is a component of group dynamics involved. This is not a new idea, though techniques for dealing with it have evolved. Recognition of this phenomena goes back at least as for as Napoleon, who divided soldiers (generals specifically) into three general groups that would have to be addressed in different ways.

The first major group is composed of the people that are ready to get behind a new idea right away. These are the modern equivalent to early adopters. These tend to be the innovative or adventurous types in a group who view new ideas with an open mind. The second major group is composed of the people who are instantly opposed to a new idea. These are considered to be the naysayers in a given group and are difficult to move off of that position. The last and often largest group is composed of people who are the middle grounders. In political parlance, these are members of the silent majority. They either lack an opinion or have taken a wait-and-see approach.

For those involved in implementing change, these three groups require very different approaches. For the first group, the object is simply to lead them into specific action. In the best case scenario, at least a few early adopters will be influential in the organization. This is the best case because the object with the second group is to achieve willing adoption or compliance and the best means of doing so is to get the early adopters to convert the middle grounders.

When it comes to the third group and implementing change, the object is still compliance. This compliance with the change is not achieved through conversation or conversion, but most often through sheer volume of acceptance by the middle grounders. No act of leadership or confrontation can bring this third group into willing acceptance of the change. In point of fact, it will most likely lead to frustration and more confrontation.

What Napoleon recognized in the natures of his generals still holds true for the natures of men and women today. Successfully implementing change means approaching those basic natures in the most effective and least confrontational way possible.

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Jacob Long has 1 articles online

For more information, please see the website: Implementing Change

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Napoleon and Implementing Change

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This article was published on 2010/03/28