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Complacency Problems in Change Efforts: Raise Sense of Urgency

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In, The heart of change: Real-life stories of how people change their organizations, John Kotter (2002) describes a story from Ted Watson, “Getting the Bosses’ Approval” which illustrates how troublesome corporate change can be, especially when employees do not exhibit the behaviors necessary to facilitate the change. As this story points out, in the event that workers are complacent and manifest fear, anger, resentment, and rejection to change, then perhaps one factor that could address complacency is a sense of urgency. Urgency presents the compelling need to drive people out of complacency and visualize the value associated with the particular change. Complacency can develop through emotions and stifle change processes. As quoted by Vladimir Nabokov (1974), “Complacency is a state of mind that exists only in retrospective: it has to be shattered before being ascertained” (n.p.).

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