The ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Side of Change

May 28, 2010 7:27 am Published by Leave your thoughts

By Alison Maxwell – Director at the And Partnership

Much of the change literature makes a distinction between the so-called ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ sides of change. The ‘hard’ stuff is the management of the tangibles – the classic territory of project management , whilst the ‘soft’  stuff includes the messy business of people’s reaction to change, their reluctances and resistances. A good friend – and an excellent project manager – argues that the human side of projects is actually the hardest aspect of change and that good project leaders are actually great people managers first and foremost.

I’d argue that teaching people project tools and techniques is therefore not enough. It may be the easy thing to teach (and to learn) but not sufficient if we are genuinely interested in sustaining change in organisations. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want to manage a complex change without a Gantt chart, I just don’t think it is enough to carry the day. Do enough of our project leaders understand the emotional components of change, and have the savvy to understand how to manage the stuff that always causes a project to falter but never appears on the plan? Why is it we consistently underestimate the human dimensions of change and the effort required to take people with us through turbulent times … or is it just easier to draw the Gantt chart?

Here’s John Kotter again, putting it very succinctly…

So.. go and talk to someone today about how they are feeling about your project.. and leave the Gantt chart in the draw.

The andpartnership is running a FREE Change taster day on Tuesday 22nd June. Come and learn some of the secrets of how to lead the recovery after change and re-engaging the workforce. For more information or to book, contact Neal Hooper,, 0870 4050060.


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This post was written by Lee Morris

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