Making Change Work 3 & 4: The Problems of Change Management & Managing Resistance

In the literature of change management, there is no discernable use of the term ‘buy-in.’ In fact, in a search I did for the term I found one useage of it in the last 50 years of change management articles and papers. One. I’m sure there are more outside of my reach, but if you search for the term ‘resistance’ there are hundreds of thousands of instances.

Just like the ‘push’ of the sales model creates objections, so the ‘push’ of the typical change management methods create resistance. Change management  is an attempt to place something new into something old, it forgets the systems nature of the status quo: everything is part of a system of interdependent parts that all have agreed to common rules and practices. Whenever anything – anything- new tries to enter this system, the system does what it is designed to do – push the intruder away. It’s scientific name is homeostasis. So to retain balance, the system must, by its nature, push away the offending element.

The field of change management is awash in ways to manage the resistance. It never has realized, for some reason, that it causes the resistance just by the nature of the frontal attack. Whether the proposed change is efficacious or not is immaterial. It doesn’t fit. Or at least the old bits that have maintained the system through time don’t know if it fits or not. Just like buyers who might need a solution object and resist purchase until there is internal buy-in from all of the people and policies that maintain the status quo, so a change environment resists. Until or unless all of the parts that will touch the intruder buy-in to it being let in, it will be kept out.

There is a very neat, simple to make it possible to achieve buy-in. I call it Buying Facilitation™ when I use it in the sales industry, but decision facilitation is another way to label it. It’s entirely possible to create buy-in before the change is attempted, and get everyone inside bought-in to the change and doing leadership activities to welcome the change. And avoid resistance totally.

I have been recording podcasts with Nathan Ives of StrategyDriven magazine. I’ve included #3: The Problems of Change Management, and #4: Managing Resistance. If you missed the first 2, here they are: podcasts one and two.

Enjoy listening. And please feel free to contact me to have a dialogue on this important topic. I have an article coming out soon in Pegasus (the magazine about systems thinking) called Buy-In: a radical approach to change management. If anyone would like me to send them an advanced copy, email me at

The change management/decision facilitation model I’ve developed has universal application. I’d be happy to discuss it with you.


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