Managing Grief and Loss in Organizational Change

“People don’t resist change, they resist loss.”

Bree Groff

A few weeks after losing her husband Dave, Sheryl Sandberg was talking to a friend about how to prepare for an upcoming father-child activity. “I want Dave,” she said. Her friend put an arm around her and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of Option B.” 

These days we are all living some form of Option B. To best navigate how to make the best out of the situation to where it may even present itself as better than what we had imagined in Option A, I invited Bree Groff to the show. This week I invited Bree Groff, Principal at SYPartners, to talk about how to manage grief and loss when it comes to organizational change. Bree is on a mission to help companies not simply endure change, but become skilled at—and find joy in—transformation.

I first head Bree speak at a design sprint conference last year. We have similar career journeys and what we also share is our belief that change begins with empathy. Over the years Bree has identified 6 types of loss that we go through when experiencing change and today she’s going to talk through them with us and how we can address them so that we can all kick the shit out of Option B and emerge stronger and better. And that begins by learning how to say goodbye to what no longer is. While it can often be tempting to present change and a new way forward, Bree believes to be successful in this endeavor we must first acknowledge and say goodbye to what no longer is.

For more than a decade, Bree has focused on transformation, innovation, and organizational design, advising leaders at companies including Calvin Klein, Adobe, Google, Etsy, Microsoft, and Hilton. Previously, Bree was CEO of NOBL Collective, a global organizational design and change consultancy. She has founded and led an innovation department, advised Fortune 500 companies as a service designer, and explored communication and decision-making as a psychology researcher. In a previous career, she taught high school math and physics. She holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MS in Organizational Learning and Change from Northwestern University. She is a visiting lecturer at Northwestern University on the topic of behavior change at scale.Bree lives in Manhattan with her husband and daughter, and moonlights as an improv student at the Upright Citizens Brigade.”

In this episode we discuss:

  • Bree’s six step framework for helping people manage grief and loss
  • How to think about making career choices during times of change
  • Why it is important to acknowledge what no longer might exist
  • How to design change so that is inclusive
  • How we can design new futures for our organizations and ourselves

To learn more from Bree you can visit her website at https://br.ee.

You can connect with me, Sabba on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter or visit my website askmsq.com.

I’m Sabba.

I believe that the future should be designed. Not left to chance.

Over the past decade, using design thinking practices I've helped schools and businesses create a culture of innovation where everyone is empowered to move from idea to impact, to address complex challenges and discover opportunities. 

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  1. Dealing with loss effectively is always a challenge especially in organizations.

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