Change Curve: Segmenting Resistance [Pt1]

Today’s post is part of a series of articles expanding on the Change Curve framework, a piece of work i’m developing to help organisations move from ‘Resistant‘ to change to ‘Dynamic‘. This is the first of four articles unpacking the new model i’ve introduced, which you can read about here.

Change Curve - from resistant to constrained

We have to disrupt the status quo if we wish to effect change: disruption that can either be generated internally, or imposed from outside. When we consider how to move an organisation from ‘Resistant‘, where it denies and starves change conversations, to ‘Constrained‘, where it is building the foundations for change and trying to overcome inertia, we need to find or experience that disturbance too, but under the constraints of a Resistant organisation, it’s hard to discover or create the space to have these conversations. By it’s nature, the Resistant organisation resists change… it self perpetuates its stagnation.

The method to introduce disturbance in this context is to create spaces for conversations to occur outside of the everyday reality, create new spaces with defined permissions, rather than trying to occupy existing and oppressive spaces. In existing spaces, change conversations are forbidden: in new spaces, we can claim that permission. Once we have these spaces, we can explore options and then generate ‘Bridging’ conversations: ones that loop back into the organisation and carry our story forwards: these bridging conversations are based on the sense making and reflection that has taken place in the external space.

The 16 Resisters of change

To get started, it’s worth revisiting the 16 Resistors of Change and deciding which are most prominent. Are the primary issues ones of Technology, Communication, Cognition or Behaviour? Understanding the shape of the resistance lets us consider how to erode it.

We can start by segmenting it into the primary categories, through observation and research. Sure: it’s fairly arbitrary, but we are trying to get from a position of inertia to at least the notion of movement, so even arbitrary will give some benefit, plus, half our battle at this stage is to recruit agents to the notion of change, to plant the seeds of our change community.

An organisation restricted by technology may display certain key behaviours. It may exert control, over what systems are used and, crucially, which systems can’t be used. It will fail to provide space for experimentation and will display a marked resistance to even having the conversation (deploying Starvation and Denial antibodies). An organisation restricted by technology will use the argument that it has to control you to be safe, to remain compliant, to reduce risk, to control cost, to ensure consistency, to drive certain behaviours, to achieve global uniformity, to give you what’s best for you, to be effective. And all these things may be true.


They may not all be true. Some may be lies the organisation tells itself: to control you, to build empires, to make life easy, because they are too lazy to change, don’t want change, don’t want change if they didn’t think of it themselves, think that you don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t think you can add value, know darn well that they know better.

Maybe not all lies, but maybe not all truths either. Maybe some of each. Maybe the Resistant organisation simply needs to open up a little space, a little trust, lose a little control to reap great rewards. Maybe it will learn to start trusting people a little more, which may be a foundation, just a sliver of a foundation of agility.

About julianstodd

Author, Artist, Researcher, and Founder of Sea Salt Learning. My work explores the context of the Social Age and the intersection of formal and social systems.
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11 Responses to Change Curve: Segmenting Resistance [Pt1]

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