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Avoiding Repetitive Change Syndrome

Most management advice today -- whether it's from books or articles, prescribed in courses or by consultants -- says that change is good and more change is better. Advice on how to change varies quite a bit, but it has three features in common: "Creative destruction" is its motto. "Change or perish" is its justification. And "no pain, no change" is its rationale for overcoming a purportedly innate human resistance to change.

The author admits that creative destruction may be necessary, and even preferable, in certain situations. Companies that have enjoyed captive markets, docile suppliers and government support may need the rude awakening it provides. In such instances, organizational stability is so ingrained that creative destruction may even be the best way to achieve change with the least amount of pain.

But for every change avoider today, he says, there are many more "change-aholics" -- companies that have changed more aggressively, quickly and repeatedly than any organization could hope to do successfully. In the process, they have often suffered from "more pain, less change." The author urges executives at such companies to continually monitor their organizations for symptoms of repetitive change syndrome: initiative overload, change-related chaos, employee cynicism and burnout.

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