Archive for Organizational Change

Oct
16

Let’s talk about Resistance: A conversation with Rick Maurer

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I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to Rick Maurer one-on-one this week.   He is the pioneer of facilitating the open discussions we can now have about Resistance.  During our conversation he shared some of his personal evolution to becoming the Resistance Guru.

Rick not only shared his thinking with me, but allowed me to bounce some of my current thinking off of him.  I enjoyed the compare and contrast – the open dialog.

For those of you who don’t know who Rick is, here’s extract from his bio: “Rick Maurer, a renowned change management expert, speaker and bestselling author, educates audiences on how to get results from major change without headaches, cost overruns, and hidden problems…or Change Without Migraines™.”  Click here to get to the full bio and web-site.

Rick broke down the way he thinks about resistance and change into four groups:

  1. Knowing – Do you know what to do
  2. Doing – Practicing what you need to do
  3. Hidden Commitments
  4. Hidden Beliefs/Culture

To my way of thinking, the first two are easy to discuss.  Everyone is willing to talk about them.  The greater challenge is in the last two.

One of the insightful statements he made was when you understand why people resist, you can understand why they support.  Rick used the visual of a person leaning in or leaning out during a conversation about support.  Me, I’ve almost always leaned in.  I am insatiably curious and have a genuine interest in others as individuals – their thoughts, desires, and goals.  I wonder how often we actually talk about what makes people support projects to change themselves or their actions?

I think that there are a myriad of elephants hidden in those last two.  What are the underlying beliefs that are causing resistance?  Until we can deal with them more overtly, change initiatives will continue to fail at the alarming rate that they do.

As for myself, I’m going to be talking about those elephants.  I hope that you will too.

If you aren’t feeling like it or are concerned about doing so, I challenge you to ask yourself where the resistance is coming from.  Take a look at the four groups above.  See what you might discover about yourself.  Good luck!

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ele_003-AfricanElephant-InBush-WhiteEgret-OnHead

I see myself, do you? I'm looking at you. Are you looking back?

During Day 1 of the World Business Forum 2010, I had the opportunity to talk with a group of fellow bloggers over lunch.  While describing what it is that I do, Carol Roth, said “you’re the Elephant Whisperer.”  Wow, I thought.  That’s dead on.  

While I’m not sure I could have labled myself The Elephant Whisperer ©, Carol nailed what I was all about.  I feel that I can and now actively “own” this label.  Here’s a portion a recent article by Carol about our lunch and the power of calling out an issue.  

“There are so many times when we have a personal or professional issue and are afraid to address it.  But how can you expect to solve a problem if you don’t identify that it exists in the first place? 

Putting a name on the monster that is causing small or big issues immediately lessens its impact.   Once you name it, the willingness to address the issue allows you to move on, instead of staying stuck in limbo forever.”   

Carol is a deal maker, author, business strategist and advisor to corporations, small businesses & aspiring entrepreneurs.  She is frank, straightforward and insightful.  You have spinach in your teeth?  She’ll let you know.  She can also make you laugh which is much needed in business these days – at least I think so.  Go here to read Carol’s full article.

In my area of practice, Strategic Change, Organizational Change, and Cultural Change, the biggest barrier, I’ve found are the elephants.  The cultural norming.  The reactions as much if not more so than the actions.  All those things that are going on that no one wants to talk about.  Just because they aren’t talked about doesn’t mean they aren’t there and are not affecting your business.

Our country (Carol and I live in the US) is at a crossroads.  Actually several.  If we are to address the changes that are needed – in both business and social arenas we must talk, really talk about the issues.  Not just the symptoms, but the underlying issues and root causes.  Therein lies the elephant.  We don’t want to talk about root causes.  Doing so would force us to look to closely at ourselves. 

You might consider calling myself The Elephant Whisperer © involves a bit of an elephant itself.  If we don’t want to talk about elephants, why would I even want this moniker?  Why have I taken this term and owned it mentally and emotionally, going so far as to rename my book?  Because I see the elephants and I talk about them.  I want to inspire and provoke others to do so too.

I’ve taken the mirror to myself.  Studied who and what I am.  It’s scary at times, but well worth the end result.  My elephant?  It’s my directness and candor.  It can (and has) made people uncomfortable at times. 

I challenge you to face your personal elephant.  The one in the mirror.  Understand who you are, what you are about, and own it.  I believe doing so is a key step to being able to talk about other elephants.  Know yourself.  Your true motivations and your own elephants. 

I applaud Carol and her directness.  I could immediately tell that she knew who she was and what she wanted.  She has an abundance mentality not a scarcity mentality.  She balances sharing openly and honestly with having a solid business background and well defined goals.  This girl rocks!  I can’t wait till her book comes out next year. 

Wondering if I should coin her as the Spinach Talker?  Food for thought?  (yes, pun intended).  The Red Shoe Writer?  You’ll understand that one better when you see her book cover (book is due out Q1 2011).  Think I should ponder that a bit more, though I must confess The Red Shoe Writer is growing on me…

In the mean time, get the mirror out.  Find your own elephants and face them down. 

Cheers and good luck both facing and owning your elephants. 

Guiding Principles

- Think Holistically
- Seek the Root Causes
- Respect the Individual
- Demonstrate Accountability
- Collaborate with Clients
- Work with Integrity, Always
- Relate to the Business Strategy
- Ensure Alignment
- Demonstrate Responsibility
- Transfer Skills

Thoughts and Quotes