Rapid change may be ‘normal’ but it can also have severe psychological consequences. Alvin Toffler (1970) argues that the rate of change was out of control, and that society was ‘doomed to a massive adaptional breakdown’. He believed that there is a limit to the amount of change that we can handle. Too much change in too short a time is unhealthy. Toffler’s name ‘future shock’ is the stress and disorientation suffered by people when they are subjected to excessive change. He labeled this future shock as the ‘disease of change’.
In organization change, there is a series of stages and each stage characterized by a particular emotional response, this response cycle has been used to understand resistance and other responses to organizational change, which for some individuals, sometimes, can be particularly traumatic and stressful.
The five typical stages according to Ross response cycle are these:
|Denial||Unwillingness to confront reality. |
‘This is not happening’.
‘There is still hope that this will all go away’
|Anger||Turn accusations on those apparently responsible|
‘Why is this happening to me?’
‘Why are you doing this to me?’
|Bargaining||Attempts to negotiate|
‘What if I do it this way?’
|Depression||The reality of loss or transition is appreciated.|
‘It’s hopeless, there is nothing I can do now.
I don’t know which way to turn’
|Acceptance||Coming to terms with and accepting the situation.|
‘What are we going to do about this? How am I going to move forward?’
Think of the changes – technological, personal, social, organizational, political, economic – that you have observed and experienced over, say, the past two years.
- Do you feel that you are suffering from future shock?
- Describe your symptoms and compare your responses to rapid change with your friends.
- Mind you ! Do not expect others to change, if you yourself are resistant to it !