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Burning Bridges

 

Disciplines > Change Management > Creating Change > Burning Bridges

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

When you have made a change, ensure that there is no way back to previous ways of working.

Example

A company that is moving to a new low-cost operational model fires its high-cost sales force, sells it's fancy headquarters and moves to a plain and simple out-of-town low-cost factory.

An organization that is instituting new software deletes the old software from the system, thus forcing people to use the new software.

Discussion

When changes are instituted, it is not uncommon for people to seek ways to go back the old way of working, particularly after the eagle eye of change agents have moved onto change projects anew.

'Burning bridges' is a deliberate way of preventing any backsliding by removing any method by which people can go back. This can be a bold move when you are not sure whether what you are doing will succeed. It does, however concentrate minds, and managers who may be not fully committed to the change are now strongly motivated to continue.

In warfare, burning a bridge behind you stops any thought of retreat and forces you to advance. (Note that 'burning bridges' is not the same as 'scorched earth', which is a tactic used by defenders who burn and destroy crops and other items as they retreat, giving the attacker no way of feeding their advancing army).

See also

Confidence principle

 

 

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