Overcoming Nature’s Resistance To Change


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If the one constant in life is change, then why are we so resistant to change?
Whether it is our diet, lifestyle, clothes, friends, jobs, cars, sports. You name it, while we say we want to change and grow, our actions make it clear we hate change. As a sales and marketing guy, I’ve always thought about the resistance to change as part of the buying process. For me, that means that for a proposal to be accepted, the pain of the status quo must be greater than the pain of changing. And not just a little more, 10X more (100X more). Most of us don’t change anything unless we absolutely have to. Sure I want to loose 10 pounds but I’m not really willing to give up the breads and sweet deserts I must give up in order to lower my blood sugar levels and keep the weight off. I suppose when my doctor tells me I must to avoid diabetes or a heart attack I’ll take the painful steps required. Until then,  I buy bigger pants and thank my lucky stars I’m with a partner who thinks I look great (love you Kate).
This morning my client Rich Selverian from MaGrann Associates shared with our CEO Leadership Council a formula he uses to affect change in his company that I’ve modified just a little (to improve it I hope).
D x V x (P x F) > ~R
Yes, Rich is an engineer and he loves formulas, but stick with me on this and let’s break it down.
D = Displeasure or pain. It is the cost of the status quo. The problem you are suffering from that you want to have go away.
V = Vision. This is the result you want to achieve.
P = Plan. What you are going to do to move from where you are today to where you want to be in the future.
F = First Steps. Think of this as the quick win.
~R = Resistance to change
How does this work? 
I think this is a very elegant formula and will help you think about how to be a change leader in your organization, how to sell more effectively, or how to loose 10 pounds. It should work for all three and many more!
To overcome the resistance to change, we must do each of the items I’ve identified. Since the equation is multiplicative, if any of these variables are equal to zero then the entire left side of the equation is equal to zero and we will clearly not overcome the resistance to change. The greater the change, the greater the resistance to change and the bigger each of the variables must be.
Let’s look at each individually.
Displeasure. We must clearly understand, define, measure and value the displeasure of the status quo. If you are not happy with where things are now, why would you undertake any change? Change always has a cost. Always has a risk. Is usually unpleasant or expensive in the short run.
Vision. We must be clear in what will happen when we change. Our vision for the future must be well thought out, specific, and the value significantly greater than the cost (and pain) of changing.
Plan. I added the plan to Rich’s original model that only articulated first steps or quick wins. We need them both. We must have a plan that we can follow to walk us through the change. The more confidence we have in the plan, the person leading us, the more value we place on the plan overall and thus our willingness to pay the price to follow the plan.
First Steps. Integral to making the plan work, we need a reasonable first step or quick win. Resistance to change goes up with time so we must have interim wins or successes that can be measured, achieved and celebrated. There is a reason that all diet plans promise that you will loose 5 pounds in the first week. You need the quick win to keep going. If your plan does not have a payoff for 6-months or a year, it’s incredibly hard to keep it going. How many projects have you started and then dropped after two weeks because it was all work and no fun.
Add your thoughts and experiences to the discussion.  I hope you will add a comment with your thoughts and experiences with the formula or with how you’ve been able to overcome change.
Considering that the only constant in life is change, we must all do a better job managing change in our personal and professional life if we are to find success and happiness. No pressure!