Saturday, October 25, 2008

Lessons in Organizational Resistance

This week I have again had several discussions about change resistance - at home, in the office, company wide, ... It always amazes me how

People use a lot of time, energy and innovativeness on resisting things.
If only that time, energy and innovativeness could be used
to develop things and create something new.


Some days ago I read an interesting post about Lessons in Organizational Resistance by Cheri Baker at The Enlightened Manager Blog. With her permission I just copy her text here.

Lessons in Organizational Resistance

So what happens in an organization when you go picking at something that is off limits? KA-BLAM! Organizational resistance shows up.

  • The process is questioned (Should we really be using focus groups? I hear that....)

  • The participants are questioned (He doesn't have the experience to be managing this project...)

  • Delays are built in (I'll call you when I'm ready to meet.)

  • Resistance to Decision Making (Let's run a few more analyses....)

  • Silence (He won't return my phone calls.)
There are a few problems with organizational resistance.
  1. The "types of resistance" above don't usually point to the real cause. (These may include lack of trust, lack of urgency, lack of need, issues of power and control, etc.)

  2. They are sand-traps, designed to capture the unwary. They become distractions to the real issue at hand.

There is a fine line between valid discussions of process and objections that mask the real issues. I had a real blunder recently when I interpreted objections as a series of unreasonable attacks instead of seeing them for what they were - just a source of resistance to be further explored. I compounded my mistake by reacting to the situation instantly, instead of giving myself 24 hours of perspective.

So here I am, feeling pretty deeply stupid and unsure what will occur next. Ick. Ick. Ick.

Live and learn. See organizational resistance for what it is - data - and don't respond from an emotional place. I wish you the best at learning from my mistakes, to save you the pain of committing too many of your own!

from Cheri

1 comments:

Bill Matthies said...

Samuli, you are right when you said:

People use a lot of time, energy and innovativeness on resisting things.
If only that time, energy and innovativeness could be used
to develop things and create something new.

For some reason too many find it easier to explain why they didn't do something rather than identifying barriers and removing them so they can succeed.

But not everyone.

Those who more often than not succeed are in the latter group.