This article belongs to Australia - Land of the Free? column.
After I wrote my last article about What does Al Qaida want' a friend of mine suggested that the problem is just resistance to change.
It is a human condition to refuse to accept change. The old ways are the best and that is what I understand so don't make me do it another way. With rapid change has come the realisation that religion is becoming increasingly irrelevant as more education makes people question the long held beliefs and not accepting the answers that been given for centuries.
Instead of enlightening, this change is making some people uneasy, frightened, and angry, so much so that they are resorting to violence.
This belief the old ways are best in the Islamic world has given rise to violent resistance against the people who want to change, namely the western nations encapsulated by the United States. With science showing us amazing advances and changing our life styles, resistance to change has been challenged like never before.
Trying to stop these changes is like trying to stop the world from turning, it can't be done. For a time some people can isolate themselves but change will eventually catch up and challenge those who are resisting.
It's like saying to the people that don't want to change that you are dumb and the people that embrace change are smart. You'd better get on board or you will be left behind.
The failure to impose democracy on Iraq and East Timor is a case in point. How can a country that has no concept of what freedom implies accept it without some preconditioning and explanation. No preparation was implemented and so we can see democracy struggling.
A blueprint on how to implement change is available from the business world and could be adopted to allow groups to accept it.
An early model of individual change management developed by Kurt Lewin described change as a three-stage process. The first he called "unfreezing" and it involved breaking down the existing mindset. Defence mechanisms have to be bypassed and in this second stage the change occurs. This is normally a period of confusion and transition. We are aware that the old ways are being challenged but we do not have a clear picture to replace them with yet. The third and final stage Lewin called "refreezing". The new mindset is crystallizing and one's comfort level is returning to previous levels.
Prosci developed the ADKAR model for individual change with input from more than 1,000 organisations from 59 countries. The building blocks include.
- Awareness of why the change is needed
- Desire to support and participate in the change
- Knowledge of how to change
- Ability to implement new skills and behaviours
- Reinforcement to sustain the change
This business model won't necessarily work for countries but at least knowledge
is available on how to implement change.
In some countries it is the leaders that are trying to suppress change but eventually global communications filters through and a groundswell of opinion makes the clamp down difficult.
Imposing change doesn't work. The business community has evidence of that. It must come from a groundswell of desire created by knowledge of the benefits.
Perhaps a better understanding of how difficult it is for some people to accept change and programs to help them implement it should be considered before expecting them to embrace it.