It’s not your imagination (with a formula!)

Bitmoji image of Grace with formula line-drawing designs. I wrote last week about CEO concerns around change and disruption.

That was before I saw recent research from the consulting giant Accenture, which indicates that the rate of change over the last four years has accelerated 183 percent.

So, yeah, it’s not your imagination: change really is coming at us faster than ever before. Last year alone, according to that same report, the rate of change increased 33 percent.

Too often, leaders look at change only from the internal perspective: the strategic and tactical changes they plan and implement. But, as we can clearly see from personal experience as well as through research, change lands on us (splat!) from outside the organization as well as from within.

There’s at least an illusion of control over how internal change plays out.

There’s not even that when change comes out of nowhere from external causes.

Meanwhile, change fatigue is real, and I’ve seen some reports indicating that employees’ ability to handle more change is, at best, half what it was pre-pandemic.

So apparently we have a rock-and-a-hard-place situation: the rate of change is statistically increasing, whilst the capacity of people to cope with change is statistically decreasing.

But we cannot stop the rate of change. Internally, if we don’t continue to advance (i.e., change!), we stagnate and the company fails. Externally, we have little to no control over what happens.

So now what?

I’m not trying to raise everyone’s anxiety; I’m simply pointing out that if we want to succeed, individually and as an organization, we must get better at handling the impacts of change, whether anticipated internal change, or out-of-the-blue external forces.

So if the rate of change is unknowable (but likely to increase), and the ability of people to cope with the change is decreasing, what can we do?

ChatGPT offered the following when I asked for a formula to illustrate the problem.

R = k * A / F


  • k represents the unknown and increasing rate of change.
  • A is the ability of people to manage change impact.
  • L is the level of change fatigue.

This formula conveys that the effective rate of adjusting to change (R) is influenced by both the ability to manage change impact (A) and the level of change fatigue (L). While k is unknowable, the emphasis is on the interplay between the ability to cope and the level of change fatigue, highlighting their impact on people’s experiences.

Okay, that was more for fun than anything, but it does point out that if we really want to manage how effectively we implement internal change initiatives, as well as how we can meet the increasing demands of external change (both of those represented by k in the formula), we must increase A and decrease L; increase ability and decrease fatigue.

I contend that when we increase the capacity to cope with change (A), we almost automatically decrease the level of change fatigue (L).

I asked ChatGPT to add this in, and that’s where I got completely lost. However, for those who are mathematically inclined:

The formula becomes:

R = k * Am / L

Here, m is a positive exponent, and as A increases Am  increases, leading to a greater effective adjustment to change (R).

This is fun, but … not very useful. So let’s bring it back down to reality.

In simple terms, as we increase the capacity of someone to cope with change – increase their knowledge and practical application of change resilience skills and tools – we decrease the impact of change fatigue on the actual implementation of or adaptation to change, and in all likelihood also decrease change fatigue. (Fear not; I’m not going to ask ChatGPT to add that into the formula!)

I’ve confused myself by now…

Which is a very bad thing when writing an article that’s supposed to be informative.

Let’s just pare this down to the basics (and if you’ve stuck with me this far, thank you, and congratulations).

Supporting leaders, managers, and ultimately every employee in learning the skills of change leadership and change resilience improves everything – success rates, engagement rates, mental health, bottom-line numbers – everything.

It’s that simple. But one one-sentence paragraph does not an article make, so … we have a formula and a lot of explanation.

If you’re curious about how this works without a formula, drop me a note through my contact form and we’ll set a time to talk about it!