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37 Principles of Change

 , March 23, 2023
Change principles are guidelines or rules with broad power to explain the nature of change and how valuable change can be accomplished. These include first principles that are arguably true and guidelines that you can hold to be true for some pragmatic purpose such as assumptions that help to form a strategy, plan or design. The following are common change principles.
Idealism Principle
Ideas shape reality as much as reality shapes ideas.
Fiction Principle
Fiction often becomes reality such that storytelling can create change.
Vision Principle
People move towards what they think the future will be.
Resistance Principle
People value the status quo. Every big change will be resisted.
Omelet Principle
You have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. Change may require breaking the status quo.
Unfreezing Principle
Change requires unfreezing stability and results in destabilization.
Emergent Change
Plans change with time and change is mostly emergent.
Attractiveness Principle
There’s no one decision, plan or design that everyone likes. You can’t please everyone.
Transition Principle
Achieving a vision often requires a series of transitional stages.
Constant Change
The world is different from moment to moment such that change is the rule and not the exception.
There’s More Than One Way To Do It
There are no perfect plans or designs, just many good ones.
Chaos Theory
Small and obscure parts of a system can completely change the future of that system.
Black Swan
An unexpected and rare event can suddenly and dramatically change everything.
Change Culture
The ability to change is mostly about the culture of a society, group or organization.
Agents of Change
The theory that there are certain individuals who create change while most individuals resist it.
Change From Anywhere
The principle that change can come from unexpected sources such as a startup that overturns industry giants.
Path of Least Resistance
Any change that makes things more convenient, easy or comfortable will quickly be adopted.
Change Inertia
Change can be difficult to get moving.
Change Momentum
Once a change is moving it can be difficult to stop.
Slippery Slope
The idea that once a change starts it may become an avalanche of change. This rarely occurs but can occur.
Unintended Consequences
Small changes to a complex system can produce large unintended consequences.
Inevitability of Change
If you try to stay the same, eventually you will be pushed into change.
Better Late Than Never
As the proverb goes “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”
Mean Reversion
Unusually good or bad results tend to revert closer to average with time.
Return to Equilibrium
The tendency for a system to stabilize after change by returning to the state where forces are balanced.
False Novelty
The principle that changes always have some historical precedent. Captured by the proverb “there is nothing new under the sun.”
An isolated system moves towards disorder. All things go into decline if not restored with outside help.
Worse is Better
Subtracting things can add more value than adding things.
Less is More
The supposition that subtracting always adds value.
Less is a Bore
The idea that subtraction often eliminates value.
More is Different
Adding things always makes them different but not always more valuable.
Essential Complexity
The principle that you add complexity up to the point that it continues to add value.
Keep it Simple
The principle that for equal value, simple is always better than complex.
Lindy Effect
The longer that a technology has survived, the longer it will survive. For example, the bicycle may outlive the gasoline car.
Path Dependence
Early assumptions and decisions greatly impact the course of change.
Preserving Ambiguity
The principle that you avoid making assumptions unless absolutely necessary.
Last Responsible Moment
The principle that you delay decisions and plans until they are required.
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