How much change is too much change? It’s a question I’m asked on a regular basis.

How much change is too little change? It’s a question I’ve never been asked in nearly 20 years as an advisor to the leaders of privately-held companies.

Understanding how much change your company can absorb exists in the relationship between requirements, capacity and speed.

  • Requirement – The level and pace of change needed for your company to adapt, evolve and exist into the future.
  • Capacity – The understanding of how well you’ve developed and conditioned people in your company to handle and manage specific amounts change.
  • Speed – The pace at which change must occur in order to maximize opportunity in relation to performance and profitability.

While there’s a fine line between order and chaos, change must occur for growth to occur. If you expect your company to thrive into the future, you need to be highly intentional at evolving the load limit of your leaders. Behaviorally, people are unique and each of them responds to change differently. You can, however, increase the required capacity and speed by which your team deals with and processes change effectively.

Awareness Drives Understanding

I drive a Ram 3500 Laramie. There’s no doubt that it’s a big, bold and powerful truck, and yet it has limits. These limits are designed to protect the truck and allow it to maximize its performance. Example – before towing anything with my truck, the manufacturer recommended that I drive 1,000 miles. Why? Because towing puts the truck under load and in order to maximize performance, the truck needed to have some miles on it before that happened.

There’s no mathematical equation or crystal ball to define whether there’s too little change or too much change occurring in your organization. Leadership awareness is what drives this understanding. You must be directly connected to the people and culture of your company to understand specific load limits. Do you recognize these within your company?

Agents of Change

You’ve got to understand with relentless awareness who will do what when it comes to engaging the requirement, speed and capacity of change. Here are five questions to ask yourself regarding leaders and their load capacity.

  1. Who consistently steps in, steps up and demonstrates an ability to handle change?
  2. Who’s long on talk and short on action?
  3. Who needs time to think and process?
  4. Who will follow direction regarding change and spell out the rules related to change?
  5. Who thinks, acts, executes and owns change proactively?

Advancing the Load Limit

If you’re looking to understand real chaos, it can be found through leaders who have never been tested – leaders who have a philosophical understanding of the difficulty and challenge of change but have never had to fight the battle of change day-in and day-out.

Advancing the load limit of a leader begins by providing exposure to situations and scenarios that cause them to discover capacity that they didn’t even know they had. Difficult? Likely! Great! Dive in! This is where the skills of planning, critical thinking, action orientation and measurement are discovered and developed.

Order is maintained through change when someone demonstrates their awareness and experience in leadership. By the way, this doesn’t mean they have to have all the answers.

Chaos is the result when you don’t condition people to expand their critical thinking, confront change proactively and don’t require them to expand their decision-making ability.

An investment in someone who consistently relies on other people to do their thinking for them is a waste.


Your engine warning light serves a purpose even though at first look you may view it as an inconvenience. That light is designed to bring awareness. It exists to help you identify an issue before it becomes something much worse.

There’s an engine warning light in your company. It’s what identifies the people in key positions who don’t recognize the requirement, capacity or speed at which change is occurring and must occur- the people you keep propping up in the hope that they will eventually get it.

WARNING: They won’t. What’s your engine warning light?

Get the next Thoughtwave delivered straight to your inbox.