Posts Tagged ‘resistance’

Choice = Power or How to reduce resistance

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

I found myself pondering a situation today and wondering how I’d handle it and realised that one of the key issues for me was the fact that I had none of the facts in the case and had been offered only a binary choice, take it or leave it.  How you feel about that kind of thing perhaps is greatly affected by your life experience, your circumstances and your personal ‘wiring’, but I know my reaction would be very different had I been presented with the facts, been invited to contribute to the solution and come to a mutual conclusion on how to take things forward.  This reminded me that one of the key reasons that people resist change is because they are only given this kind of binary choice.  If you want them to go along with your plans, engage them, involve them, consult them and allow them to be part of the decision making process…

The Inevitability of Change

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

I was listening to someone talk the other day and they referred to “the inevitability of change”, and it was a phrase that really resonated for me. So often I hear people talking about Change as if it was an occasional stroke of bad luck, a bit like a traffic accident or a snow storm, something visited on us by the gods to test and try us. Nothing could be further from the truth! It is much more like weather, something we live with every day, just another dimension of our lives. And who should understand the changing nature of weather better than the British?

Change is inevitable. Change is constant.” Benjamin Disraeli

Every day we grow a little bit older and perhaps a little bit wiser (of course inside we always feel the same 16 year old we have always been) but as we grow older we notice the young people around us seem to change each time we see them, so why should change be such a threat when it is so much a part of our daily lives?

The truth is that we fear, fight and resist those things which are imposed from outside and this usually includes most business change programs. The very phrase ‘change program’ is enough to send a cold shudder of dread through an organisation. The usual methodology seems to involve someone at the top getting sold some new idea; perhaps a consultancy has some ‘new’ methodology to peddle. This is the silver bullet, the secret ingredient that will kill all known germs, the one element that is required to transform your business! Usually it is snake oil and as likely to work as consulting the magic mirror in the executive washrooms! Intuitively the workforce realises this and resists it as pointless.

Since the industrial revolution, the language of the workplace has become ever more the language of the production line. We want to eliminate waste and have reliable processes. Of course there is nothing wrong with either of these aims but in our efforts to turn people into machines we rob them of their spark. We need to create an environment that supports their genius and humanity and allows them to respond to things with all their gifts and intuitions. How often has a potential cock-up of monumental proportions been defused with a smile and a sincere sorry? An incident book and H&S manual would do nothing but compound and perpetuate it.

Of course I’m not suggesting we don’t need structures and processes, but when we treat people like components we are breeding resistance to the natural flow of things, including change. The farmer goes out into his field every day and sees something different and responds appropriately. He has no expectation that he will see the same conditions nor will his crops look the same; he knows things will have moved on. Leading business thinkers are warning that the old wisdom about peaks and troughs in business is now a thing of the past and that there no longer is a ‘recovery’ phase. It just keeps on coming.

It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.” Isaac Asimov

The thing is we don’t tend to fear things that we are familiar with, we learn to deal with them. I believe the key challenge for every business leader today is Change. Every decision is fundamentally about what things need changing and what things need preserving, and allocating resources between these things. Strategy is about mapping a safe route through the minefield, where to turn and where to keep straight on. So leaders need to build a culture that sees Change as inevitable, a force to be worked with as sailors use the wind, not to be feared, but harnessed!

“Champions know that success is inevitable; that there is no such thing as failure, only feedback. They know that the best way to forecast the future is to create it.” Michael J. Gelb

I was listening to a Kyudo (the Japanese art of archery) master speaking the other day about how the desire to hit the target prevent you from doing so, one had to simply be in the flow and release the energy stored in the bow. This make seem overly zen and weird but I think a leader builds energy in his system, chooses his target and then his job is to simply release it and trust it to find its target.

Find a new language for discussing change, involve people in a dialogue about it rather than imposing it, set a direction rather than giving instructions, release energy rather than seeking to restrain it and remember “Change is inevitable.. Except from a vending machine!” The best way to get people to join the ‘dance’ is to be the first one onto the dance floor…

Learning your lessons

Monday, October 13th, 2008

I was out with someone today who was complaining about how tough it was to school her own brain “It is just like telling the kids to pick up their things!” she complained “I have to keep telling myself the same things over and over again!”  So why is it that it takes so much effort to learn Life’s lessons?  We are anchored to our own doubts, fears and the little voices that haunt the inside of our heads keep undermining our resolve.  Knowing something at an intellectual level isn’t enough to make us feel good about it or ourselves.  We have to get that knowledge deep into our core so that even in the dark of the night we can believe it.

If intelligent, motivated people face this kind of struggle with change, should we wonder that it is so hard to achieve in a corporate environment, where people can walk away from the ideas at 5 o’clock?  You absolutely have to find a reason why the change you are asking people to make is compelling enough to them to get them to do any more than pay lip-service to it… 

“Your mind knows only some things. Your inner voice, your instinct, knows everything. If you listen to what you know instinctively, it will always lead you down the right path.”   Henry Winkler

Resources: Why Change fails

Going with the Flow, or should you be a little boulder?

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

We have all heard of the expression “Go with the Flow”, it suggests aligning your self with the energy and allowing it to carry you along. I think there is much wisdom in this philosophy particularly when it is the Universal Energy you align with. Doing this can take you where you should be, bring you what need, support you and energise you.

However, it has a second usage and that is suggesting going along with the people around you, not making waves, being one of the gang. Now I’m sure there are times when this is a good thing too, but if they aren’t going where you need to be, or doing things that support you and align with your values and principles, then perhaps it is better to be a little boulder / bolder and do what is right for you. This takes courage and strength of character but it is crucial to know when to just say “No thanks!”

So if today finds you in a quandary whether to go along or stay where you are, take a moment to dial into whether it feels right for you. Taking a little time, finding a little silence allows us to find our inner guidance and wisdom.

“Everything in the universe has a purpose. Indeed, the invisible intelligence that flows through everything in a purposeful fashion is also flowing through you.” Wayne Dyer

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Lao-Tzu

Resistance: "I don’t know how to do the new behaviours"

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

The other day I posted a blog listing some of the reasons for resisting Change.  This is the third in series exploring those reasons. 

Today’s reason is “I don’t know how to ‘do’ the new behaviour”.  The thing is, role models play a key part in our learning process, and within a stable organisation new and junior team members look to more experienced ones to learn the ropes.  In a Change project, the new skills may not exist in the organisation (indeed that may be part of the problem that is being addressed).  This goes beyond training, it is learning on the job.  One key element of this is that these role models demonstrate that these behaviours work (and are safe, and part of the recipe for success).  If in doubt people copy what you do, rather than doing what you say, so wherever possible, you should model the new behaviours for them.

“I’m so proud to be voted as a number one role model by these young women. Of course though no-one knows more about “rolls” than I do.”  Dawn French

Resistance: I don’t have the skills

Monday, June 9th, 2008

The other day I posted a blog listing some of the reasons for resisting Change.  This is the second in series exploring those reasons. 

Today’s reason is people’s fear that they won’t have the necessary skills to operate / function in the new set-up.  The first thing to say is they may, of course, be exactly right.  It obviously depends on the degree and nature of the change.  Before you announce your programme, you need to have assessed what kind of training and support your team might need.  It needs to be appropriate to people’s preferred learning styles rather than a one size fits all  training session, and there may be the need for ongoing support.

You also need to be aware this can be as much about how people feel about their capabilities as their actual capability.  If you fail to address their feelings, you are likely to fail.

“What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.”   Anthony Robbins

Resistance: Stepping into the Unknown

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

Yesterday I explained that there were many real reasons why people resist Change. I thought it might be interesting to explore these in a little more detail. So today, “Why standing still is never an option”.

If you think about it, the idea we can avoid Change is ludicrous. It is happening all around us all the time. Look in the mirror and you will probably notice the odd change or two; look in your wallet next time you fill up your car; turn on the TV and see what kind of shows are on today. Change really is a fact of Life and is avoidable.

However, and here is a key element, in order to feel safe, we need to feel in control. Control equals choice. So if I am able to choose not to do something, I must be in control and the world is a safe place!

When Cortes landed in South America, to claim it for Spain, he burnt his fleet of boats to ensure the men were ‘motivated’ to go forwards. Interestingly, if you ever need to lead a horse from a burning stable, you have to blindfold it to get it to move to safety. Burning platforms can work, but they have to be relevant and compelling for the individual concerned.

The Flight / Fight mechanism will keep us locked up and static, till our fear threshold is lowered enough that we can respond rationally to what is being asked of us, so quoting logical facts and figures before the emotional baggage is ditched is doomed to failure.

So step 1 in Change, is deal with the emotions, help people to feel safe.

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.” Marie Curie
“Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop.” Usman B. Asif

I don’t want to..

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

We have all heard about resistance to Change. It’s a bad thing… right? Not necessarily! And thinking that it is a sure way of running into trouble. Resistance essentially is all about communication. Either the behaviours are subtle forms of communication in themselves, or stem from incomplete or ineffective communication on the part of management. If you try to quash it, then I can almost guarantee that you will fail to implement your programme successfully. If you explore and deal with it in a respectful way, it might well ensure success.

Here is a list of some of the reasons for resisting Change, I feel that:-

  1. Moving into the unknown feels more dangerous than staying ‘still’ (of course the option to stay still is an illusion as change is going on all around us all the time)
  2. I don’t have the capabilities I will need in the new environment
  3. I don’t know how to ‘do’ the new behaviours (I have no map, no role models)
  4. I will be leaving behind something I value, either in terms of ideas, memories or relationships
  5. I am overwhelmed by it all emotionally and can’t cope with the additional workload
  6. It may not be such a good idea, and need more convincing
  7. You may have some hidden agenda that I don’t understand.
  8. I will somehow become a different person and my life will change in all sorts of unexpected and unwelcome ways
  9. That I may loose status or somehow be worse off
  10. It just won’t work!

There are all sorts of ways of handling these issues, but they all come down to communication, by which I mean doing a lot of listening before telling them why they are wrong!

I will be exploring this in more detail in forthcoming blogs

“Resistance is thought transformed into feeling. Change the thought that creates the resistance, and there is no more resistance.” Robert Conkin
“Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” Sun Tzu