Moving from episodic change to continuous change is like a sprinter becoming a marathon runner.

According to an organizational change and development study by the University of Michigan, the phrase “episodic change” is used to describe organizational changes that tend to be infrequent, discontinuous, and intentional. Sometimes termed ‘radical’ change, episodic change often involves the replacement of one strategy, program or key personnel with another. Continuous change, in contrast, is ‘ongoing, evolving and cumulative’. Also referred to as ‘incremental’ change, continuous change signifies that people are constantly adapting and editing ideas from various sources. At a collective level, continuous change made across the board can create substantial change.

This is why today’s external environment is so hard on front-line supervisors, leaders, directors, and employees. Everything they do is based on episodic change. Now they need a whole different muscle set, mind-set, and range of emotional skills to operate in a field of continuous change.

Change is inevitable. At times you will have to sprint to keep up with episodic changes. However, it is important to remember that in order for your organization to evolve and improve, continuous improvement and change is unavoidable. Leaders and employees have to put on their running shoes and enter the marathon in order to succeed.


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