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Overcoming Resistance with a Robust Case for Change

by David Swain

Changing an organization is like performing a heart transplant. Does it have to be bloody and cost a lot of money? No! But, an organization has an immune system, like a transplant patient’s immune system, that is resistant to change even when the change is necessary for survival. As a leader, you need to overcome this immunity to change by building a robust case for change so your people will accept it. There are two steps to this that you should pay attention to: 

1. Create enough dissatisfaction with the current state that people are willing to make change

The simple fact is that people are resistant to change. It’s human nature! People get comfortable even in situations that are unpleasant and are hesitant about learning new skills, procedures, or habits. People like the familiar, and need to be jolted out of their complacency. It’s about breaking down the natural resistance to change by drawing awareness to what is not working and what needs to change.

2. Create a compelling vision about where the organization is going to go

This is the healthy heart in our organ transplant comparison. Not knowing what to do is terrifying, so you need to have a strong and clear vision about what you are doing. You need to spend time talking to people about what will be possible as a result of the change. Making change happen may be frightening, but often it’s not as much effort as people initially think. Even then, there is a good chance people will tend to fall back into old habits. As a leader, you have to constantly remind your people what is important for the health and survival of the organization.

Successfully implementing organizational changes, from small incremental changes, to large transformational shifts are difficult for both the company’s leaders and employees. Building a strong case for change that reinforces the vision and benefits of change will help accelerate the adoption of change and make your “recovery time” easier.


David SwainDavid Swain, BSc Mgmt., MSOD, CEC, PCC with over 30 years’ experience in both coaching the leaders of large organizations and leading them himself.




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