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Are You Ready for Change?

Sustainable Positive Change

October, 2018

Page 4

A step-by-step Guide to Process Improvement and Change Resistance Mitigation

An engagement strategy to address objections to the change is necessary. To construct the strategy, objections must be identified. An interview accomplishes this. Using the strategy, we can remove real or perceived hurdles and roadblocks and identify the state of change readiness. As you construct your interview process, keep in mind that objections can relate to real or non-existent perceived problems and challenges. Regardless of real or not, they are real to your colleague. Those perceptions and/or problems may exist due to personal or organizational impact. Drill down during your discussion to comprehend why. These are distinguishing attributes which must be identified. Your understanding of the true objections will become integral to reduce change resistance.

Pitch: Your pitch must contain a problem statement, a proposed change(s) and a definition of success. This provides the interviewee with enough information to express readiness or objection. Make sure that you take the time to really introduce problem. If timeframe is a factor in your improvement process, describe how soon you think change should take place. Sometimes, the individual you’re engaging with will disagree about the reasons for the problem,


Discover: Pitch your idea, ASK for their thoughts, then LISTEN. The goal of this stage is to identify objections. Why might team members be resistant to change? Make no assumptions.


Even if you think you know something as fact, explore the situation with the individual. It’s possible they have not considered their true reasons for resistance. Your conversation with them may be just as informative and useful to them as it is for you. And in such a case, you may win them as an advocate!

Clarify: Your teammates will effectively give you a roadmap of what needs to be accomplished for change success. There is a well-established method of discovery. Your questions should be open-ended, not intentionally resulting with a yes or no. Rather, it should an open dialogue, resulting with discovery. Below is a hypothetical conversation to better illustrate how this might work.

Dialog Table.PNG

In this dialogue (which I acknowledge is not always this simple in real life) we can see identification of real issues and that team additions may necessary for a successful improvement effort, (customer included) and can now develop an engagement strategy for this individual. Similar interviews will be necessary for other stakeholders. It should go without saying that discussions with customers must be take with the utmost care. However, it is my experience that customers are usually very familiar (painfully so) with organizational problems and want to assist in eliminating their contribution where the relationship improves and problems affecting them go away.


A more sophisticated approach to interview has been well defined. Chris Voss was the FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator for many years and is now the CEO of Black Swan Group. His career and success are noteworthy. In his book Never Split the Difference, Chris lays out a very practical and systematic approach utilizing some of the academic work of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman which I referenced earlier. Chris refined his techniques through extensive practice in theory and in life and death situations. His book is a reflection of that culmination and guides the reader how to employ his techniques in everyday situations, life-threatening or not. A blogger Yan-David Erlich summarized Chris’s work in a useful table. You can download it here: SlideShare. Some of what is presented will only make sense if you read the book.


It’s worth restating that the goal of this article is to improve the success of your improvement project. Up to this point, we accomplished a lot of information collection to that end.

In the next article, we will work to leverage this, resulting in a data-driven to overcome resistance to change as you implement your improvement process. Also in part two, we'll cover these highly effective

  • The New Way (or) Training: Keep it Short and Make it Often

  • Fast-track Process Improvement: The Agile Method

  • Non-conformance Process. Your Most Valuable Tool?

  • Setting New Expectations: Zero defect?

  • Wash, rinse, repeat!

Until next time…

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