An excerpt from an article* by Alan Deutschman for Fast Company:

Change or Die.

What if you were given that choice? For real. What if it weren’t just the hyperbolic rhetoric that conflates corporate performance with life and death? Not the overblown exhortations of a rabid boss, or a slick motivational speaker or a self-dramatizing CEO. We’re talking actual life or death now. Your own life or death. What if a well-informed, trusted authority figure said you had to make difficult and enduring changes in the way you think and act? If you didn’t, your time would end soon — a lot sooner than it had to. Could you change when change really mattered? When it mattered most?

Yes, you say?

Try again.


You’re probably deluding yourself.

You wouldn’t change.

Don’t believe it? You want odds? Here are the odds, the scientifically studied odds: nine to one. That’s nine to one against you. How do you like those odds?

The backdrop to this passage is the healthcare industry and patients who have serious heart conditions, conditions that create the need for bypass surgery or angioplasty – serious procedures indeed.

Healthcare costs – 80% of them – are driven by five primary challenges; too much smoking, drinking, eating, stress and not enough exercise. It’s been that way for decades, and these five issues are usually linked to certain heart conditions and heart attacks. Yes, even after being treated for these serious health concerns and being told to either change their lifestyle or die, a shocking 9 out of 10 people will regress into these same behaviors within 2 years of the procedure.

In other words, they would rather die than change. And the same is true of businesses and organizations. The article continues:

Changing the behavior of people isn’t just the biggest challenge in health care. It’s the most important challenge for businesses trying to compete in a turbulent world, says John Kotter, a Harvard Business School professor who has studied dozens of organizations in the midst of upheaval: “The central issue is never strategy, structure, culture or systems. The core of the matter is always about changing the behavior of people.” Those people may be called upon to respond to profound upheavals in marketplace dynamics — the rise of a new global competitor, say or a shift from a regulated to a deregulated environment — or to a corporate reorganization, merger or entry into a new business. And as individuals, we may want to change our own styles of work — how we mentor subordinates, for example, or how we react to criticism. Yet more often than not, we can’t.

Yet Deutschman goes on to share recommendations for making positive change happen, citing IBM and Zerox as examples. I won’t be a spoiler here – I’ll let you research and find out for yourself, if you are curious in the least. It will serve as a test of sorts, a test to see if you’re even interested in how to change both individually and organizationally.

My purpose here is not about finding a solution – that’s for a different conversation – it’s about recognition. As they say, “You must first recognize you have a problem in order to solve it.”

So, as you look at you talent acquisition, staffing and contingent labor models, how are you and your organization changing to keep in step with a dynamic marketplace? Are you changing at all? Do you have a feedback mechanism in place that keep you from falling into a rut and falling behind? Are you more willing to die as a leader and an organization than you are to change, as uncomfortable as that might be?

Tough questions that need answers. It’s a matter of survival.


*This post is based on an article in Fast Company located at

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