What change do you hate the most? For me, that’s probably changing a bad attitude into a happy one when I don’t feel like it. Resistance to change, any kind of change, is probably the most powerful force on the planet. Wouldn’t it be cool if a measurement process existed for those changing?
What if I said there is a formula for change? Take a look at this one and see if you can decipher it.
Give up? Then let’s read on.
Beckhard-Harris Change Model
Beckhard and Harris popularized their change model in 1987. They postulated the conditions necessary for a person or organization to change. In the formula DxVxS>R, the variables represent the following:
- D – dissatisfaction with current conditions
- V – vision for a better future state
- F – knowledge of first steps to be taken toward change
- R – resistance to change
Remove any of the three variables on the left side of the formula, and change does not occur.
Let’s give this a try. Assume you hate the current weekly cash forecasting tool you currently use to project cash balances over the next 13 weeks. Hate – there, that’s an indication of an inflection point for change.
You also envision a better, simpler, faster tool. Instead of spending 8 delirious hours on your current software solution (ahem, that’s Excel), you dream of a solution where the forecasting is done in 8 minutes with far greater accuracy.
Houston, we have a problem. You don’t know where to start. Does such a solution even exist? Your favorite FP&A bloggers never mention such tools (probably because they use Excel too). You’re stuck. The doldrums stink.
And what about resistance? Resistance, in this case, comes in the form of lack of time and lack of know-how in researching the ideal solution. Standing pat is easier than moving forward, at least for now.
Case closed. No change. You keep using that hideous Excel-based cash flow forecasting tool.
How about another example – losing weight. Check that, let’s not go there. I think you get the idea on the change formula.
Player and Morlidge on The Change Model
Every financial leader should read Future Ready. If you have not, I highly recommend it, even if you have to skim parts of it as it’s dense with ideas, research, and concepts.
The Future Ready authors include the change equation in their book too. Here are my favorite takeaways from their perspective:
- Change can only occur when working on all sources of change and resistance at the same time
- Using force to overcome resistance does not always work (think command-and-control management styles)
- Like biological systems, organizations are adaptive meaning their resistance to change is not fixed (this is a key concept)
Player and Morlidge state that you and I need to learn where and how to weaken the forces of resistance before we attempt to apply pressure to change.
Change and Next Steps
I’d like for you to stop and take note of changes that have occurred around you both professionally and personally. Were the variables of successful change prevalent in those situations and far greater than the resisting forces wanting to stop others in their tracks?
Next time you embark on a change process, keep this formula nearby. Identify small strategies to elevate the variables necessary for change. Look for ways to minimize resistance throughout the process. Your odds of success will increase.