Why Fixing Resistance To Change Has Failed—
And What To Do Instead: PART TWO
In Part 1, we looked at the key importance of resistance in change management projects. Resistance often arises as an unintended consequence of attempted change, even in situations where those responsible for carrying out the actions to achieve the change agree it is important and necessary.
While the major effort of change management technique has concentrated on developing intelligent ways to combat and go about fixing resistance to change, change expert Paul Brand has repeatedly demonstrated that preventing resistance is a far better approach.
The straightforward truth is this: when co-creation is ignored, resistance results.
The Perspective Shift That Transforms Change
With this perspective, “resistance” takes on a different appearance in the change process. Line employees cannot participate in the materialization of the change when they have not thought the thought. This is why including the people involved in and responsible for implementing the idea is essential. By involving them, resistance will be strongly reduced.
This is Co-Creation. Staff who work in the area where the idea is to be introduced will automatically care about it. If they feel bypassed or ignored, and they haven’t participated in the creation of the idea, resistance will result. However, by tapping into their natural self-interest and creativity, co-created solutions can result in not only better but significantly more easily implemented solutions.
“Neither the need for a change nor the quality of the idea have much effect on resistance.”
A fascinating conclusion is that neither the need for a change nor the quality of the idea have much effect on resistance. Ownership of the idea is the basic tool for eliminating resistance: as someone makes an idea their own, applying their own views to it, they can proceed to the action steps. There’s no need for fixing resistance to change in this case.
Ownership of Ideas Leads Directly to Change Success
Let’s return to the painting my house.
Despite the fact that I fully agree the paint job is necessary and important, the approach of ‘ambushing’ me with it at the end of the work day caused me to react with resistance.
Notice how the quality and urgency of the idea are unimportant at this moment. Since I was left out of the creation process, I’m resisting. This is the reality of day-to-day operations in many organizations.
Clearly attempts to counteract and attempt fixing resistance to change are not the answer. Yet this is where effort and energy are being put by companies. Efforts to persuade frequently result in raising resistance levels. What is called for is that step at the beginning: co-creation, allowing people to be part of the design of the solution, to be seen and heard.
Where do most companies put their attention on regarding change management technique? Overcoming resistance. As if resistance is something that must be fixed. Instead, Paul Brand has experienced better results by preventing resistance through co-creation.
Resistance Shows People Still Care
Resistance demonstrates that people still care. The danger is that it will evolve into indifference if left unaddressed. The source of their resistance often comes from having useful ideas about the topic. Resistance is therefore not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing, because it can indicate meaningful and enriching ideas are ready to be contributed to the solution.
Preventing and resolving resistance issues in change management initiatives will open a more effortless path towards the project’s success. Keep in mind those who became indifferent likely expressed their resistance earlier. They may have felt their ideas were not being acknowledged. “Bad” ideas that were not theirs may have been weighing them down in execution.
In Part 3, we’ll discover the unexpected “blessing in disguise” arising from encountering resistance in your change management projects. Read Part 3 here.
Paul Brand is a management consultant working with global blue chip organizations such as Shell, Heineken, Sony, ABN AMRO Bank, Ahold, and EON. Evolving from an operations perspective, Paul’s focus moved into providing specific expertise on growing and nurturing the innate ability to change.
Paul leads organizations through the confusion of change management from “just another management methodology” to the understanding that change management is about the development of people. With his book, Change Your Mind, Change Your Business, Paul’s purpose is to dispel the common misunderstanding and even negativity surrounding change management, and how you can begin successfully applying it in your own environment.
For a free assessment of your own change management skill set, and more information about Paul’s book, Change Your Mind, Change Your Business, click here.