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Meaningful Engagement vs. Buy-In: What’s the Difference and Why Should I Care?

Group Of Designers Having Meeting Around Table In Office

Many years ago, I came across a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal. It read, “Change imposed is change opposed.” A consulting firm that was promoting its change management practice had placed the ad. It held my attention for a long time. I had been familiar for years with the adage “People support what they help to create.” I’d quoted it many times and thought it conveyed what people leading change needed to know about the essence of change management.

However, this new statement conveyed the idea more directly - even bluntly. It caused me to think about how many organizations go about managing change and it caused me to wonder the following all the more.

If imposing change provokes opposition and people do in fact support what they help to create, then why do we continue to manage change in ways that do not truly engage people and do not foster conditions where “meaningful engagement” can occur commonly? Why do we continue to settle for “buy-in” when we want and need so much more? Continue reading