I Think Opinions

You want to change things?

Make a push for a change or lower your expectations!

By Marco C. Janssen, UTInnovation, the Netherlands

Making a push for change is usually not that easy. In order to be effective and successful in a job sometimes compromises and sacrifices may be a necessary step, however, if you are not willing to do that, the only logical option is to look for another job.

Every job and every company have their good sides and bad sides. I have been fortunate to have had several great jobs and have worked for several great companies. Yet that does not mean that I did not face challenges in every job that I have had so far. In every job there will be situations and circumstances that can cause stress and negative feelings regarding the job at hand, the colleagues, or the company. 

In some cases, this may be because you feel that you have been handed a task that is too difficult for you to handle without support, or by sense of lack of support by your colleagues. 

It may however also be because of the organization’s culture and general attitude that can conflict with your approach towards work and thus create significant stress as things do not seem to be going the way you think is best. 

Typically, companies after years of successful operation have created strong institutional behaviors that go beyond formal structures and policies. Informal norms and practices become deep-rooted and impossible to eradicate overnight. This means that if you are a part of such an organization, and want to move things forward differently, you will have to find ways to manage a systemic effort to overcome and break down this cultural inertia. 

This can be done on a small scale by motivating your direct colleagues to try something new or different, or on a larger scale by approaching the natural leaders within the organization and marketing your ideas to them in the hope that they will pick up the ideas and turn them into new practices.

Now I can almost hear you think, “why should I make this effort?” and “this is risky as I may trigger a negative response from my peers and superiors, which can seriously impact my career.” 

My reply to the first question is that a better solution always starts with one person having a good idea. If you think you have such an idea, yet choose not to share that idea, you can be sure that nothing will change, or at least that a change will not be the way you would like to see it. 

To the second question my response is that there is always a risk of getting negative responses from peers or superiors, yet 

I think that if you prepare a compelling story to explain your ideas, you may at least trigger a discussion that can lead to the changes you would like to see. 

I do suggest though to present your ideas in a positive way, as proposals to change things are often seen as attacks on the status quo within the company and will trigger resistance by those wanting to preserve the status quo.

If you take the effort of sharing your ideas and to make a positive change in the company’s culture, and/or the typical approach towards tasks and/or the attitude of your colleagues and nothing seems to result in the change you hoped for, then you have a few things to consider:

  • First you should ask yourself whether you are at the right company and in the right job
  • Second you should reflect on the responses received from your peers and superiors to analyze whether what you think is better is indeed better for the company and your colleagues

Based on the answers you come up with in response to these questions, you have two options:

  • You can look for another job or position or 
  • You can lower your expectations and basically give in to the status quo that the company culture is preserving and accept that things are the way they are

This latter approach may seem like you are choosing the road of least resistance and in essence this may be true, yet in order to be effective and successful in a job sometimes compromises and sacrifices may be required from you. If you are not willing to compromise or sacrifice, the only logical option is to look for another job.   


Marco C. Janssen is the CEO of UTInnovation LLC and the former Director of the Smart Grid PMO at the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority. He received his BSc degree in Electrical Engineering from the Polytechnic in Arnhem, Netherlands and has worked for over 27 years in the field of Smart Grid, Protection, Control, Monitoring, Advanced Metering Infrastructures, Distribution and Substation Automation. He was a member of IEC TC57 WG 10, 17, 18, 19, the IEEE PES PSRC and CIGRE B5 and D2 WGs. He was the convenor of D2.35 and editor of the Quality Assurance Program for the Testing Subcommittee of the UCA International Users Group. He holds one patent, has authored more than 58 papers, is co-author of four Cigre Technical Brochures and two books on Smart Grids and Electrical Power Substations Engineering and is the author of the “I Think” column in the PAC World magazine.