Overcome Resistance to Change: Magnets or Bowling Balls

If everyone likes it, why bother? Change is never enjoyed by everyone.

Leaders think too much about ‘what’ and not enough about ‘how’ when making change.

Bowling

Magnets are better than bowling balls when it comes to inspiring change.

Failure:

John Kotter suggests 8 reasons transformation efforts fail.

  1. Lack of urgency.
  2. No powerful guiding coalition.
  3. Lack of vision.
  4. Undercommunicating vision by a factor of ten.
  5. Not removing obstacles.
  6. Lack of short-term wins.
  7. Declaring victory too soon.
  8. Failure to anchor change in corporate culture.

Overcoming resistance to change:

Magnets are better than bowling balls when it comes to inspiring change.

Enthusiasm feels like intimidation to people who ‘don’t get it’.

#1. Make room for concerns, complaints, and doubts.

Your uninformed optimism creates distrust. You seem blind and disconnected when you don’t acknowledge legitimate concerns.

Don’t minimize risk, difficulty, or uncertainty. But don’t circle the blackhole.

#2. Talk a little more about loss.

You’re excited about gains, but the fear of loss is strong motivation. The pain of losing twenty dollars exceeds the pleasure of gaining twenty dollars. (Thinking Fast and Slow)

What might be lost if we don’t change?

#3. Extend genuine respect.

Unintended offense causes resistance.

We usually push harder when facing resistance. But people don’t fall like bowling pins.

“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” Peter Senge

People feel disrespected until they feel understood.

#4. Sincere curiosity demonstrates respect.

Be curious about:

  1. People. What do you know about the people who express resistance? Don’t assume you know why people are resistant.
  2. Shared values.
  3. Shared goals. What do we really want for each other?

“People have to believe that the price of the status quo is dramatically higher than cost of the transition.” Daryl Conner

What helps leaders overcome resistance to change?

The Science of Changing Someone’s Mind – (nytimes.com)

Overcome Resistance to Change by Enlisting the Right People (hbr.org)