This is due to the fact that any change, even minimal, implies movement outside the comfort zone and any human being will tend to go back to the comfort zone to avoid stress due to the perception of danger and lost (status, habits, competencies, recognition, power). The good news is that the more you practice change and getting out of your comfort zone the better you get at going through change. And we all know that change is the only thing that “lasts” in life.
MI experience as consultant, coach and facilitator of change processes has allowed me to see that when it comes to launching change in organizations or teams, there are 3 main types of resistance:
- Technical resistance: the weight of habits and inertia, the lack or difficulty to develop new competencies, the pressure for cost reduction, the lack of means (human, technical or financial).
- Cultural resistance: The selective perception that comes with cultural rules, the thinking that status quo is always better than trying new ways, the fear to move on or try something new.
- Political resistance: The fear to loose power, influence, job, resources, visibility that creates a defensive attitude towards any threat to current reality.
- 10% are the Innovators, the change agents, those individuals that are ready to lead the change and assume their role as ambassadors since the beginning of the change initiative.
- The next 40% is made up of early followers: those that need to understand the benefits and risks that the change implies before they support it. Frequently we can find the future sponsors of the change initiative in this group; they have power over the resources and might allow pilot experiences in the areas under their responsibility.
- Then there is another 40% of people that are the late adopters (that I call St. Thomas) They not only need information but also proof and results that show that the change can work and has brought benefits to other areas in the organization, they need to touch in order to believe.
- The last 10% in the normal distribution is made up of resistors that will not support the change initiative even if they receive information or proof and results. There are multiple reasons for this (the fear to loose is one of them).
The key to success in managing a change initiative is in building a critical mass of supporters, an ally’s coalition and with this purpose in mind, it is advisable to:
- Gain the support of 90% of people in the Gauss curve through the appointment of change agents or ambassador that are to be part of the change initiative Project team.
- Develop and distribute the information required to gain the support of potential sponsors of the initiative that will allow implementing pilot experiences in their areas of responsibility.
- Plan for, and get early successes and results to show to the late adopters.
- Resistors then, would most likely only have the choice to support and initiative that is already backed up by 90% of critical mass.
The final important advice in this whole process is to verify that none of the potential sponsors of the change initiative are positioned in the resistors group, in which case it would be advisable to question the opportunity and timing of the change initiative that we want to launch.
In a coming article I would provide examples of resistance to change and options for effective influence strategies.
Marta Santos Romero
15 rue du terras