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doubt and resistance in change

The Root of Doubt and Resistance In Change Projects

Doubt and resistance in change is disturbingly common. Three months have passed since the change program was supposedly completed, and handed over to you for managing continued implementation. And you seriously doubt you and your team can do it.

At first the program team was still there to support you and they kept the boat floating with the motivational initiatives they had planned for.

But now they are gone. The interventions have lost their effect. And now you and your front line team need to make it happen. You are responsible for generating the expected savings which where envisioned to be the result of this significant change initiative.

You feel alone. Doubt and resistance in change are taking over.

The new way of working is not quite a fit. Your new tools don’t have what it takes to truly make a difference in your business. They don’t match your team’s qualities and capabilities.

Who—be honest now—supports this new initiative? You don’t. Your people don’t.

Yet support is what’s needed: full support in its execution.

What is needed for this change program to succeed is the tweaking of it, every day, so that it will work.

But that opportunity is mostly gone. This initiative was pushed on you and your people whether you liked it or not. No matter how well you perform as a motivational leader, they are not going to suddenly start liking it one day.

What went wrong? You made it all the way to Director in the organization: how can it now seem that you have such little influence and control?

Doubt And Resistance In Change Management

The doubt leaders experience in implementing change management projects is natural. It’s not an indication of your willingness and ability, nor of your team’s.

One critical change management mistake underlies all the symptoms described above. You and your people have been included at too late a stage within the change program.

By fixing this one error, you’ll eliminate a number of symptoms like that feeling of lack of involvement, doubt and resistance in change, and commitment to the outcome.

So what are your options now, with this implementation that no one really wants? The change has been designed and implemented in detail. Some critical decisions have been made that you can not easily undo at this stage.

However, it is possible to make this change yours. By literally redesigning it according to the laws of the creation process, you can achieve that state of commitment to its implementation.

The solution is inclusion.

The Creation Process And Change Projects

Awareness of a simple underlying process defines the quality of any improvement initiative within your organization. This process is called the creation process.

Change initiatives can only become successful when the creation process has been applied consciously and successfully.

Anything in life comes into reality as a result of the creation process. Let’s use the example of creating a cup of coffee. This cup of coffee will only end up on your desk if you:

* First think the thought that you want a cup of coffee (the actual creation)

* Next, take the required action to materialize your idea (the materialization)

You have to think the thought of what you want before you can take action to materialize.

Yet what happens within organizations? Where much creation is done with groups of people, this process is frequently ignored.

In fact, individuals who are not aware of the creation process often determine the outcome of change programs.

Here’s why this is a serious problem: most changes are thought of by a small group of people, usually at the top of the organization.

The materialization of these changes becomes the responsibility of a different and larger group of people who have not been involved in the definition of the change. Those responsible for materialization did not think the creation thought!

Can you see how just as it’s impossible to get the cup of coffee if you have not first thought of that creation, you and your team cannot execute the actions required to materialize the thoughts of someone else?

It is the unawareness of this creation process which causes all sorts of symptoms within change programs and it’s execution.

So here is the solution: Co-Creation and Co-Materialization.

Create together, and materialize together.

Ensure that the group of people implementing the change have been involved in its creation.

The materialization actions in a creation cycle may only be carried out successfully when you first have thought the creative thoughts.

This is true first on a personal level, and then also when creation is done within a group.

Organizations not following the creation process experience resistance in their change projects.

Resistance In Change

The Root of Doubt and Resistance In Change Projects
Resistance is the number one symptom of change management problems that I have heard leaders complain about. And rightfully so. People often times resist a specific change: it can even take the form and shape of sabotage.

But what is the root cause of their resistance? It is not because they simply don’t want to change, or lack specific qualities to work differently.

Reality is much simpler. People resist when they have not been included in the design of a specific change.

One does not simply take part in the materialization of change when he has not been included in the design of that change. The creation process dictates that.

Regardless of how good you are at motivating people, leading people through change is an impossible job if they were not included in the creation step.

I have seen leaders judged as not having the capability to lead teams through change; painfully, this was an incorrect judgment. The truth was that the team had not been included in the change’s design.

Motivation And Change

You may have experienced this as a leader, as I have: people often get demotivated as a result of specific motivational efforts.

The more you put your energy into getting people to participate, the more they seem to resist. Even some of your best people will react this way.

Here’s why: whether they’re aware of it or not, their doubt and resistance in change comes from not being included in the design of the change.

Motivating people without giving them the opportunity to co-create results in resistance. Their core need of being included is not met.

When you motivate people to overcome their resistance without paying attention to their core need of inclusion, the resistance and frustration will only grow.

The Long Term View In Overcoming Doubt And Resistance In Change Projects

The most powerful step you can take to lead your organization is to apply the process of co-creation. Including your employees in the design phase will dramatically impact the quality of the change.

Consider ‘The Bad’ if you don’t adopt inclusion.

Organizations go through a tremendous number of changes. Those changes not shaped by co-creation result in a pile-up of poor to mediocre alterations which you and your people feel no inspiration to improve upon.

People end up operating with ways of working they simply do not support.

That obviously hurts your operation. Your daily operations end up being run in a negative atmosphere.

This sub-par performance itself becomes the cause for senior leadership to draw the conclusion that your operation needs to improve. Before you know it you are confronted with yet another new improvement initiative which increase the strain. And as it is not co-created will only deflate performance.

You can see the downward spiral. People become drained, and the quality of your operation declines quickly.

The ‘Good News’ of following the co-creation principle, is this:

By creating the change together by first designing it and then materializing it, all the previously untouched qualities and creativity of your team become available to you.

Even better, they will become sponsors of the change. After all, it is their idea. They will be motivated to prove that it will work. Their senses are open to include further optimizations and eliminate threats to this new way of working. Doubt and resistance in change will have evaporated.

Through co-creation, all the symptoms we saw above will disappear. Instead, you can shift your attention to growing your business, and making the best use of the quality of the people available to you. And you will be praised for it.

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© Paul Brand