Overcoming Resistance to Change

Image
Can people see that the alternative would be better?

Traditionally, “change projects” have often been driven by technology implementations or upgrades, with business processes and working practices being changed to fit in with the new system.

In today’s turbulent economy, however, change is just as likely to be driven by something else: a long-established competitor unexpectedly going bust, for example, or your bank calling in a loan, or a layer of middle management being made redundant.

Whatever the situation, when change looms on the horizon, chances are that you’ll hear things like:

“I can’t believe that restructuring the sales force is really going to increase sales.”

“Upgrading the system is such a disruption. I just don’t see why we need to go through all that work.”

“Our current system isn’t great, but what’s so wonderful about the new one? How will that be any better?”

“I know that Corascon going under should be good news for us, but I can’t work out what I should be doing about it.”

With comments like these flying around, how will you get everyone to agree with the changes you have in mind? After all, you can’t do this without them!

This is where Beckhard and Harris’s Change Equation can help. In this article, we’ll look at this equation, and see how you can use it to roll out successful change in the future.

Explaining the Change Equation

Richard Beckhard and Rubin Harris first published their change equation in 1977 in “Organizational Transitions: Managing Complex Change”, and it’s still useful today. It states that for change to happen successfully, the following statement must be true:

Dissatisfaction x Desirability x Practicality > Resistance to Change

This seems to be a simple statement, but it’s surprisingly powerful when used to structure a case for change. Let’s define each element, and look at why you need it:

  • Dissatisfaction: Your team has to feel dissatisfied with the current situation before a successful change can take place. Without dissatisfaction, no one will likely feel very motivated to change.Dissatisfaction could include competition pressures (“We’re losing market share”) or workplace pressures (“Our sales processing software is crashing at least once a week”). Dissatisfaction can be any factor that makes people uncomfortable with the current situation.
  • Desirability: The proposed solution must be attractive, and people need to understand what it is. If your team doesn’t have a clear vision of what things will be like after the change, and why things will be better, then they probably won’t be willing to work to deliver it. The clearer and more detailed you make this vision, the more likely it is that your team will want to agree with the change and move forward.
  • Practicality: Your team must be convinced that the change is realistic and executable.
  • Resistance to change: Resistance to change includes people’s beliefs in the limits of the change (“A new system won’t fit with our unusual business process”), stubbornness toward any change (“I don’t want to have to learn how to use a new system”), and general inertia or lack of interest at the beginning.

And because there’s a multiplicative relationship between Dissatisfaction, Desirability and Practicality, if one element is missing, that variable will have a value of zero – meaning that this whole side of the equation will equal zero.

How to Use the Tool

Beckhard and Harris’s change equation is most useful as a checklist in the planning and communication stages of a major change. When you’re planning your change process, consider each variable to make sure your team (a) feels dissatisfied with the current situation and (b) believes the future state is both desirable and practical.

Consider the sales processing system we touched on earlier, which is crashing regularly. Right now, the system might crash only once a week – this is inconvenient, but it’s not painful. So overall, your team may be reluctant to go through the all the work involved in an upgrade.

When you use the equation, you see that the number of crashes doesn’t cause the team members to be dissatisfied enough to make the change. It’s your job to give them a clear vision of what their lives would be like if they don’t make the upgrade.

For example, let them know that even though the system currently crashes only once a week, it will eventually start crashing every day – and then multiple times every day. When that happens, the team will get behind on their work, and they’ll have to stay late to get it finished. A picture like this will probably increase their dissatisfaction with the current system. (Of course, it’s always possible that they’re satisfied with the existing approach, that the change doesn’t deliver sufficient benefits, or that the plan isn’t practical – in this case you need to revisit the case for change!)

Also, make sure you share enough details about the technical aspects of the change to help people understand how things will be better. Suppose the new system, in addition to fixing the current problems, also has the capacity to handle 500 times more transactions simultaneously. If people don’t know this, they may not be convinced of the desirability of the upgrade!

And finally, be clear about what you, and your team, will need to do to make the change from the current state to the desirable new state. In particular, identify first steps that will help you increase people’s confidence in the practicality of the proposed change.

Key Points

Implementing change is no small task. But using Beckhard and Harris’s change equation during the planning process is a quick but effective way of ensuring that your team understands why change is necessary, why your proposed “to be” state will be better, and what they need to do about it now! When all of this is in place, you will greatly improve the likelihood that your change will be successful.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a great blog like this one today..

  2. Jimmy Cayson says:

    Definitely, what a fantastic website and educative posts, I definitely will bookmark your blog.All the Best!

  3. My husband and i have been very thankful when Edward could do his web research because of the precious recommendations he gained from your weblog. It’s not at all simplistic to just find yourself giving freely things that some other people may have been selling. Therefore we recognize we’ve got the blog owner to give thanks to for that. Most of the illustrations you made, the straightforward site navigation, the relationships you can make it possible to create – it’s got many incredible, and it’s really making our son and us imagine that the article is cool, and that’s extraordinarily indispensable. Thank you for the whole thing!

  4. bcg vaccine says:

    Would certainly want to express your article is stunning. The clarity inside the post is just impressive and i also usually takes like a given you could be an expert on this field. Well effortlessly your permission i wish to grab your feed to maintain by yet with succeeding post. Thanks several and please continue the sound work.

  5. I simply added your website to my favorites. I love reading your posts. Thanks!

  6. Excellent goods from you, man. Beckhard and Harris’s Change Equation .:: computer geek’s diary ::. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely great. I actually like what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what you are stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it wise. I cant wait to read far more from you. This is really a wonderful Beckhard and Harris’s Change Equation .:: computer geek’s diary ::. informations.

  7. Herschel says:

    I have noticed that credit restoration activity ought to be conducted with techniques. If not, you may uncover yourself endangering your rank. In order to realize your aspirations in fixing your credit rating it’s important to confirm that from this moment in time you pay all of one’s monthly dues promptly in advance of their planned date. It is significant on the grounds that by not accomplishing that, all other steps that you may decide to try to improve your credit positioning will not be effective. Many thanks for expressing your ideas.

  8. I have a couple of query to you, publish to people I don’t e-mail

  9. This is a set of words, not an essay. you will be incompetent

  10. Fantastic items from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff prior to and you’re simply extremely great. I actually like what you have received right here, certainly like what you’re stating and the way in which by which you assert it. You’re making it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it sensible. I cant wait to learn much more from you. This is actually a great site.

  11. I want to express my thanks to the writer for bailing me out of such a incident. Because of surfing through the world-wide-web and coming across concepts that were not beneficial, I believed my life was gone. Living without the strategies to the difficulties you have fixed by way of your good review is a serious case, as well as those which may have badly damaged my career if I had not noticed your blog post. Your personal training and kindness in playing with a lot of things was very useful. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t encountered such a solution like this. I can also at this time look forward to my future. Thanks a lot very much for your expert and results-oriented help. I will not think twice to propose your site to anybody who desires guide on this issue.

  12. I’m a long time watcher and I just thought I’d drop by and say hello there for the really initial time.

  13. you’ve an excellent blog here! would you prefer to make some invite posts on my blog?

  14. I was just looking for this information for a while. After six hours of continuous Googleing, at last I got it in your web site. I wonder what is the lack of Google strategy that don’t rank this type of informative web sites in top of the list. Normally the top websites are full of garbage.

  15. Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive learn something like this before. So good to find any individual with some original ideas on this subject. realy thank you for starting this up. this web site is one thing that’s needed on the web, someone with a bit of originality. useful job for bringing one thing new to the internet!

  16. Good day! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on. You have done a marvellous job!

  17. Wow! This could be one particular of the most useful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Excellent. I’m also an expert in this topic so I can understand your effort.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s