As I sat on a plane yesterday on my way to facilitate a client workshop, I remembered the saying about how a plane has to take off against the wind. Rather than ponder the nature of aerodynamics while flying, instead I wondered – could there be change with no resistance?
As a fun exercise, I tried to envision what the conditions would be for a resistance-free change. Won’t you play along by adding your own observations in the comments?
To have change without resistance would require:
- Perfect information about the cause and effect relationship between the change and the results it will have on the organization.
- No detrimental effects to anyone because of the change.
- The new way is a perfect replacement for the old way. No loss avoidance.
- Everyone understands their role in the change.
- No learning curve – the ability to go from 0 to 100% effectiveness instantaneously.
- No politics, posturing or power plays. Full transparency.
- Everyone in agreement about the need for change, the vision of the future state, and the path to get there.
- No trade-offs to get it done. Unlimited resources.
- No perception that the change is a threat or a risk to anyone.
- No mixed messages from managers.
- Everyone trusts each other to get the job done effectively and on time, because everyone does.
Of course, the items on this list are impossible, especially for a change initiative that has substantial impact on an organization. But, as change agents we try to bring about these conditions as much as we can, or and help people work through them.
Interestingly, it is the act of resistance itself that shows us where the work needs to be done. In this sense, resistance is a gift given to us by people who care what happens, and we should embrace it rather than try to quash or ignore it.
I’d love to hear what you would add to the list. What additional conditions do you think would be necessary to have change without resistance?