Making Change Work

Time to Read – 3 minutes

I have often spoken about giving “change” a context, so that we avoid change for change’s sake.

The way I suggest this is to ask the question “change what?”

I thought this was pretty good – i.e. it gives change a context; what exactly do you want to change?

And then, last week I was in a coaching session with Alan Berck-May, HR Manager with Renesas Electronics Europe, and before I could share my “change what” he said “change to what”

This may not sound like much of a difference, and to any coaches reading this it will seem obvious – to me that additional “to” makes a big difference when discussing change in a project, team or organisation.

“Change what?” focuses on what you want to change.

“Change to what” adds the outcome that you or others are seeking to achieve.

And outcomes are, and always must be, your cornerstone.

As always, there is only what works, and what does not – so find out what works for you – Action – See which works for you at work and at home – when someone uses the “change” word, which works better for you? Asking “change what?” or “change to what?”

Please let me know through the website

And thanks Alan

With my love and best wishes to you all


  • Bruce Hazelton

    I think this distinction is imperative to move away from the 'change for change's sake' mentality. Very often we know something is wrong, but if we don't define what we want to change to surely we're just aimlessly drifting? If we change 'what' there's no inherent expression of improvement. It's easy to change something. It's harder to change it for the better. If we want to change 'to what', as long as 'what' is defined as better, changing to it will always be a positive result.

  • Mike Colquhoun

    Change is a movement away from one thing to another implying the previous state no longer applied – Change gear, Change clothes, Change buses – Change itself carries no benefit in itself. If Change is what people wish for then the old adage of “be careful what you wish for” holds true. Equally the question has to be asked why the 'change to' is not the current state. Defining change as being better is no guarantee of a positive result. Flip side is that things get stale and need shaking up. This is the reason that change needs to be embraced, in fact it must be embraced to work!

  • Theresa C Hodges

    The little words make all the difference and are often edited out to sound cool. Their correct use can change the whole meaning of a sentence. In, of, on, to, if. T

  • David Taylor

    Yes Theresa I agree – another little word that was brought to my attention this morning was “we” – when “we” are clear who we mean by this word, it is so powerful – many thanks David

  • David Taylor

    Thanks Mike that is so clear and so obvious, and I mean that as a compliment – why have organisations been so blinded to the obvious, for so long?

  • Chris

    Fascinating that there can be so many variables around this subject. I know exactly what you mean and sometimes the whole context of a sentence can change just with the addition of a word, or even a comma.Change what for? might be another. You have to tell people why it is you want to change, then what it is you need to chance and then discover what that change will evolve to.I find the whole change concept a great one. Sometimes you have to change things to make them better rather than just keep going producing non results with the same old tired format.England football team take heed!

  • Paul Charlton

    Can I change the dynamic of this conversation here?Probably not as most angles have been covered.Change can sometimes affect a situation in a way you don't want. So there are reasons to change and you can find reasons not to change.It's like a girlfriend. Sometimes people look for something that isn't there. They would be better served in making sure whet they have is special and nurture it. That's just one example. There are many others.

  • Mark

    Change for the sake of change is not ideal. When it needs to happen that is different altogether.Changing a policy at work can often have a beneficial effect but then sometimes, you can change things for the worst.

  • Chris Everton

    England changed it today because they needed to and Fabio Capello proved himself to be a great coach.The players he brought in made the difference and that was change out of necessity, not just for the sake of change. It was a wonderful way to show the media that they are in control and do know what they are doing. And the likes of John Terry showed great leadership. Now we have to go and beat Germany all over again.I beleiev it can be done. These Germans are a young side and we can make the experience we have in our squad.The leading players can show themselves to be great leaders.

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