Change is often more valued in the abstract than in reality; as the saying goes “Change is good, you go first.” Change, even in the right direction, can be unsettling and disruptive. There is a saying in Systems Thinking that reflects that truth: “Things will get worse before they get better.”
The J-Curve of Accountability is a graphic that illustrates the same principle. An organization is operating at a certain level of performance; a change initiative is undertaken to achieve a higher level, increased accountability and performance expectations lead to a decline in morale. However, as results rebound and folks adjust and take pride in the results, morale improves.
To experienced change agents, the J-Curve is a familiar phenomenon but it can be daunting when first encountered. The task of a leader is to guide their teams through the J-Curve, show the way, believe in the change, to convince them that the curve can and will turn.
“All things are difficult before they are easy.” – Thomas Fuller, 1608-1661
“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by discomforts.” – Arnold Bennett, 1867-1931
“Change can be frightening and the temptation is to resist it. But change almost always provides opportunities – to learn new things, to rethink tired processes and to improve the way we work.” – Klaus Schwab, b. 1938
As always, I share what I most want and need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier