June 16, 2018

Managing Change in Improvement Projects - Comfort Zone to Comfort Zone

Industrial engineers have to ensure employee comfort in every redesign of theirs.

Industrial engineers have to take care of comfort of the employees/operators/workers. While the basic focus of industrial engineering is speed, it has to consider the comfort of the operator along with it and any speed improvement in the machine or in human effort should not create any discomfort to the operator.

But a change in method can always create discomfort. The new method has to be learned by the operator. Recently there is a change in fares of taxis and autorickshaws in Mumbai and Thane. The meters are not changed for increase in fares but a new rate card is issued. Because a driver is not familiar with the new fare, he has to consult his card frequently to find the fare. So there is more work now for him. But after some more days, he will remember the computation and he need not consult the card.

Every change initiative goes through that process. The change managers have to assure the operators that the new process does not create any extra trouble for them once it is stabilized and also have to inform the operators the steps that they have taken to make the transition stage also comfortable.

The change management literature has to talk of comfort zone to comfort zone transition. I thought I brought up this idea today (24.10.2010), but I found an article by Nigel Brooks which is already there.
Migrating Through the Change Response Cycle From Comfort Zone to Comfort Zone


A good detailed model of comfort zone to comfort zone is provided by Alasdair White. He talks of increasing skills which reduce anxiety in due course to take a person from a comfort zone with a steady state performance through a performance improvement zone to another level of steady state performance in a comfort zone. The idea is how enhanced performance comes with a person being always in comfort zone only even though skills are increasing and performance is increasing. Training and behavioral support must be provided adequately so that comfort zone is maintained.
Read Alasdair's article - From Comfort Zone to Performance Management: Understanding Development and Performance

Originally posted in

Updated on 2018 - 17 June 2018,
Updated on 4 July 2014, 2 Dec 2011,24 Oct 2010

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