Three Armies

A great war leaves the country with three armies - an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves. Picture Quote #1

This proverb comes from centuries of experience with the traumatic changes that accompany conquest, and it deserves at least a footnote in any organizational plan for strategic change. It reminds us that whatever positive results the conquerors gain by their efforts, they leave behind three serious problems: the survivors who have been wounded by the changes they have been through; those who are grieving over all that they have lost in the change; and those whose loyalty and ethics have been so compromised by their experience that they turn hostile, self-centered, and subversive. To make matters worse, in the struggles surrounding organizational change, these “three armies” are found on the winning side as well as on the losing side. The problem of survivors is seldom on the minds of the planners of change, but it cannot be avoided by anyone who must implement the change or by the people who must manage the situation that results from it.

– Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges

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