Why Fixing Resistance In Change Has Failed—
And What To Do Instead: PART THREE (Co-Creation)
In Parts 1 and 2, we discovered that while change management has historically focused on smart ways to fix issues of resistance in change projects, prevention was a better solution. We learned from change management expert Paul Brand’s many years of field experience that prevention of resistance is best accomplished through inclusion via the co-creation process.
Resistance therefore altered in perception from being a ‘bad’ thing to being an indicator that co-creation laws had been violated and people were feeling excluded. They had not thought the thought, and therefore felt no involvement in the transformation. In fact, they frequently resented the intrusion from above.
Reduced Resistance In Change Management Comes From Co-Creation
Recalling the imagination and materialization steps in the creation process, the solution is to allow these stakeholders to participate in co-creative activity. As they participate in creation and materialization, resistance will dissipate. The only true solution is inclusion. Since those previously displaying resistance have been and remain highly interested in the transformation, they may even become ambassadors for it.
Looking closely at co-materialization, what occurs is a group of people transform the ideas they generated themselves into their reality. By whom, how, where and when are key factors to identify during the creation process. Working together to develop the plan is a requirement. Without doing so, actions will be assigned to people who have not thought of them—thereby violating the co-creation process.
When an individual has thought of an action that is even frightening or unpleasant, the surprising result is little resistance occurs. The action is now a straightforward thing to do. However, if sufficient resistance accrues against a specific materialization, the act of co-creation will determine another action to be implemented.
Resistance: The Blessing In Disguise
People can state that the desired results of a change project are unrealistic or impossible. Perhaps actions intended to produce a specific result have not brought that conclusion any closer. This can be frustrating, to the point where cessation of activity and questioning of the overall goal of the change may occur. When resistance is encountered blocking implementation of planned actions, it may be a blessing in disguise, however.
The blessing in disguise given by resistance is contrast. This contrast can provide indicators about where and how the creation needs to be refined to make it perfect for the situation. Clarity is key in change management initiatives. Instead of viewing resistance in change as a criticism, embrace it as input on how to optimize your change. View it as a welcome ingredient in the process of co-creation and successful change.
When friction and resistance is occurring between the executive level, line managers, and front line staff, co-creation consistently diffuses these symptoms. Should an organization that has traditionally conducted business through a top-down strategy suddenly and completely switch to a co-creative approach? Probably not. Gradual introduction of inclusion going forward is likely the best path of implementation. This is an alteration which should be made following substantial deliberation.
The idea that resistance in change is something that must be fixed, and that effort should be focused on finding smart ways to correct resistance, has been central to managing change. However, prevention is a better result and through the approach of co-creation the impact of inclusion will be felt positively all through the organization. This leads to much smoother implementations and transformations. Read more about Co-Creation 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.