The Prison of Inability and Resistance


The Prison of Inability and Resistance

A place where we reflect on why we can't move forward.

Members: 6
Latest Activity: Jun 3, 2011

In any change process, the dominating theme of management is usually what is perceived as resistance to change. Armies of consultants and organizational psychologists are hired to help “overcome resistance”. In reality people usually do not resist change but they have hopes and fears, and they have concerns, purposes and circumstances. If these are not acknowledged, people stop collaborating. When you feel resistance to change, you should be happy: this is a signal for you. The signal could mean: there is something wrong with the change project, or: the message hasn’t reach the hearts of the people, or: it hasn’t been properly communicated. Or maybe, we haven’t got the right mix of skills and attitudes that we need.

When asked, most people would state that they do not resist to change but the others around them (their staff, their leaders, etc.). Exploring the root causes and starting a genuine dialogue about why it is hard to implement change might be a start...

Questions for Deeper Exploration

  • What do we know about people’s perceptions of the proposed change?
  • How do we respect people's needs, concerns and circumstances in the change journey?
  • Who has been involved in this change journey, and is the cycle of involvement wide enough?
  • Is this a change which contradicts our culture, values, principles and maybe even our purpose?


What Tools Would You Use in the Prison?

How to break out of a prison? Please list tools, links, articles that deal with the issue of resistance to change in organizations.Continue

Started by Holger Nauheimer Mar 25, 2010.

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Comment by Lucie Newcomb on March 26, 2010 at 11:42am
Hi Holger - I appreciate your insights here, in particular, along with your diagram. I do think folks initially resist change but I include fear of uncertainty/loss of job as a part of resistance - so perhaps my disagreement has more to do with language and semantics, than principles and content. Like you, I see such expressions as an invitation to be more sensitive to individual responses to the proposed change and more thoughtful in the communications/messaging about it. Rather than mounting militaristic strategies for "overcoming" resistance to change, we have an opportunity for dialog and collaboration, often at a completely different level.

My first Change Guide experience was brutal; partially because it wasn't really designed and it culturally took place on another planet. I was the C-word (consultant) retained to study and lead a vast re-engineer business processes in an overseas market leader. Unbeknownst to me, all the staff thought I was there to evaluate them for lay-offs. I guess I shouldn't be surprised they tried to stage a coup when I was away on a short business trip. Fortunately, the "crisis" caused me to review and reflect on the need to "re-engineer" my own behavior, based on this revelation of hidden preconceptions, and create relationships instead of "research subjects". This shift resulted in not only the ultimate accomplishment of deliverables and objectives but some lifelong relationships as well. The folks who tried to get me fired behind my back ended up giving me a going away party when the project was over - and teaching me a lot about humility, gratitude and collaboration (as well as resistance/fear) in the process. - A most worthy leg of the journey!

- Lucie

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