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The Third Question:
How to Make Change Happen?

A recent TV commercial has a woman quoting her father's advice that "You can do anything you set your mind to do. But you just can't do it alone."

Once you've decided on what to change and after that, derived a solution for to what to change to, it's very very rare to be in a position that you can make the change happen all by yourself. A major aspect of answering the third question of management - How to make the change happen? - often involves overcoming obstacles. Most obstacles are "owned" by different people associated with the change. The need for collaboration and consensus to proceed frequently can make or break a proposed improvement.

Fortunately, there seems to be a universal pattern to resistance to change. Different layers of resistance can be peeled back one by one as the resistance takes on different characteristics during the buy-in process.

The Six Layers of Resistance to Change

Layer 1 - "We don't agree on the problem."

    Identification and confirmation of the current constraint, usually perpetuated by a debilitating dilemma or chronic systemic conflict

Layer 2 - "We don't agree on a direction for a solution."

    A breakthrough idea for dealing with the root cause of identified symptoms

Layer 3 - "We don't have an effective solution"

    Clear vision of the system-wide solution, its desired outcomes, and its implications

Layer 4 - "Yes, but..." (Reservations about undesirable side effects)

    Identification and consideration of concerns, reservations, and risks that may be encountered in implementing the proposed solution

Layer 5 - "We can't do it because..."

    Identification of and planning to overcome obstacles to implementing the solution

Layer 6 - Unverbalized fear

    Comprehensive "Change Management" for necessary personal buy-in of all key players

You'll notice that layers one through three may seem familiar if you've read about what to change and to what to change. These are the basis for developing an effective solution to the right problem. (After all, you do have to convince yourself during the development of a change, right?)

But as soon as you start sharing your idea, layers four through six can get in the way. As a matter of fact if you don't go back to layer one with your target audience, they probably won't even listen.

Every workshop and implementation program offered by Focused Performance and the Goldratt Institute is built on this foundation. If one of your obstacles is the lack of familiarity with the TOC tools or concepts that enable effective change, we'll be happy to provide you with the guidance for their appropriate use.

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Related links:

Project Management

Implementation & Change Management


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