Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Using Motivational Interviewing to elicit change under constraint (#change #lean @biggerplate #mindmap)

I’ve just finished a wonderful ebook on “Motivational Interviewing in Probation” (see my links on my delicious account) and it appeared to me that this skill may very well be suited for Lean Coaches when they don’t have the opportunity to coach top management but are asked to “do Lean” in the company.

Most of the time, managers are asked to “do Lean” and this very request triggers their change resistance upon arrival of the loca Lean expert (coach). As each managers may be on a different stage of the change model (see my previous article on Stages of Change Model), the coach should be addressing each of them differently. This mindmap explains how.

Use your new MI skills to achieve that and tell me how it works. Warning: it may look easy, but it’s some hard and live intellectual work. But who said Lean was easy anyway? 🙂

See the uploaded MI on Probation mindmap on Biggerplate here.

Chris Argyris Theory of Action (a #mindmap uploaded to @biggerplate)

June 23rd, 2011 Posted in Change Tags: , , , ,

Ok, I had those on my hard disk, only decided to prettify them and share them.

Chris Argyris has a very interesting explanation of why people don’t change and don’t challenge organizational status quo. you can read more on him on (great site by the way, check it out!).

You can also access the just uploaded mindmap:


Increasing your change management skills with Motivational Interviewing (a new #mindmap on @biggerplate)

I just uploaded this mindmap on BiggerPlate here.

MI is an ecological way to elicit change motivation and action in people that may have been resisting it in the first place. A perfect skill to master, IMHO, for any change leader or change agent (including Lean management!).

Best of all, it fits very well with Solution Focus, as I have already said previously.

What have you done recently to help people around you accept change?

Redirecting attention from negative to positive in 3 small steps (P->C->O) (a @doingwhatworks blogpost, useful for #Lean change?)

Another great article from Coert Visser about overcoming the so-called “resistance to change”:

Doing What Works in Solution-Focused Change: Redirecting attention from negative to positive in 3 small steps (P->C->O).

Often, a Lean program (or any change program for that matter) is being imposed on people by upper management. Hopefully, most of the time, management asks what need to be achieved, but not necessarily how it needs to be done.

That P>C>O method looks useful when people don’t want the change being imposed on them (Lean for that matter). It indeed means that they want something to change: the contraint being imposed on them!

So that a nice way to reframe their “resistance” and transform it into something they want more of.

As I’ve read elsewhere on contrained change: rather than work on the imposed change when the person needing to change does not want to, work on the contraint itself: “what can we do to get some relief from this imposed changed on you?”.

And then the talk can go into another direction.


Can #Lean be helped by Self-Determination Theory and #SolutionFocus? (a @doingwhatworks paper)

From that very interesting (as is most often the case from Coert Visser!) paper here, I derive the following insights:

Lean on the motivation continuum

Self -Determination Theory (SDT) has is that motivation can be expressed on a continuum from “amotivation” to “intrinsic motivation” with three basic human needs: autonomy, competence and relatedness (all things that are also found in Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs and the notion of Flow from Mihaly_Csikszentmihalyi).

Lean appears to be well on these three pillars of motivation:

  • autonomy is high in an environment where management does not solve the problem of their collaborators, but instead coach them to resolution.
  • this coaching leads to increased competence on the work and on the process of continuous improvement itself, along with a better knowledge of how the organization works (through A3 problem solving for instance which fosters nemawashi – japanese term for: go see all stakeholders and work with them)
  • by doing nemawashi with all stakeholders, people get their relatedness level increased!

On motivating people to do Lean

Visser’s paper continues, on page 13, on the way Motivational Interviewing can help a professionnal helper (!) with their client, as would be the case of a Lean coach in any organization (please bear in mind that I talk of a coach, not a consultant whose approach is different). In this regard, MI is based on 4 general principles:

  • the expression of empathy
  • the development of discrepancy
  • rolling with resistance and
  • support for self-efficacy

Considering what I often saw in organizations with respect to Change and Lean more specifically, I’d say that:

  • Lean change approaches are often law on empathy: “all your problems are belong to us, we’ll you help solve them”,
  • with a development of discrepancy that more than often consist in management or co-called coaches finger pointing faults in those running the processes,
  • a rolling with resistance that consists of stomping it for it’s the proof of ignorance in Lean matters and that so-called Lean coaches and experts know better (which is indeed true as for Lean things, but blatantly false  with respect to people’s own Gemba),
  • and support of efficacy is most of the time seen as Lean consultants (whoops I should have said ‘coaches’ 😉 doing most of the job themselves (deciding on what the Future State Map for instance should look like) with only partial accounting for people’s ideas.

What I described above, though caricatural (or is it?) is still what’s even been given a name: L.A.M.E. (Lean As Misguidedly Executed).

The paper goes on starting from page 14 on some suggested questions to addresse the four principles above to move someone in the needed change direction, but with proper respect for their motivation and of them as people, by helping find how they could be engaged with the change initiative.

Reflection questions:

  • As a CEO, how engaged are your collaborators in the Lean initiative? What have you done to motivate them and engage them, as persons, in it?
  • As a Lean coach, how have you addressed management’s willing to do Lean? What questions did you asked them as for their own needed change with respect to Lean (that is, Lean should be done by management with collaborators, not to collaborators)?

#Changement, #Lean et #systĂ©mique: Les comportements d’Ă©vitement comme rĂ©sultat d’une double contrainte

Pour une fois, je me permets un article en français. J’aimerai rappeler cet excellent papier portant sur la thĂ©orie de la communicationde l’Ă©cole de Palo Alto (qui a appliquĂ© la systĂ©mique Ă  la communication). Il y est question de la possibilitĂ© que certains comportements d’Ă©vitement soient le rĂ©sultat de l’existence d’une double contrainte.

La thĂ©orie de la double contrainte a Ă©tĂ© proposĂ©e par l’Ă©cole de Palo Alto et notamment Gregory Bateson.

L’article joint ci-dessous explique comment ce comportement d’Ă©vitement peut ĂȘtre Ă©mergent Ă  une situation de double contrainte. Le rĂ©sultat, vu de l’extĂ©rieur, est ce que l’on appellerait de la “rĂ©sistance au changement”.

Je ne vais pas rĂ©pliquer le papier dans ce post mais je vous invite Ă  le lire (c’est en français pour une fois !) et Ă  voir comment cette situation ne pourrait pas ĂȘtre une explication au manque de rĂ©sultat en matiĂšre de changement Lean (par exemple).

Le papier a Ă©tĂ© Ă©crit par Olivier Millet d’Interaction et Changements : Les comportements d’Ă©vitement – opportunitĂ© ou flĂ©au.

Carl Rogers concepts #mindmap: a reminder of coaching attitude for #change and #Lean #management

I’ve just uploaded a mindmap out of material I’ve scouted on the net: Carl Rogers concepts MindManager Map.

I find Carl Rogers position toward people very interesting and something terribly necessary to have in mind when considering changing organizations (either using Lean or Systems Thinking), because it reminds us that:

  • things did not occurred out of nothing
  • the system (organization) is perfectly adapted to do what it does (hence the difficulty of changing it)
  • everything currently being done makes sense to the people working inside the system

It reminds me of that Socrates quote: “All I know is that I know nothing“.

All of this is highly impregnated of Systems Thinking stuff: people adapt to their environment (the system around them), which allows them to change it for their own purpose, which will retro-act on themselves. It concludes that people are adapted to the variety of the system around them and, corolarly, that someone outside of the system can’t have the requisite variety. So it’s a necessity to be unconditionnally accepting of the collaborators.

Also, because a change is perceived as a threat (whether consciously or not), a perfectly safe environment must be set up (between the coach and the manager or the manager and the employees) for the new experience to be integrated and make sense of. This environment mwill be in the relationships established between employees and their management.


#Change Resistance as viewed from a #systemsthinking point of view

Thinking to that well talked about subject (232,000 results in google for “Chance Resistance” – quoted included), I decided to give it a shot… The result if the image below (click on it to zoom it).

Systems Dynamics view of Change resistance

Systems Dynamics view of Change resistance

You start in the upper right corner: there a change needed and a suspected resistance to change from the system that needs to be changed. So, the change plan is devised without too much involving the soon-to-be impacted people, to avoid raising their resistance to change. The result, once the change plan is rolled on, is double: a lack of requisite variety of the plan to the impacted people and their local situation and a feeling that everything’s been already decided. Both feelings generate some form of resistance (active in the first case, passive in the second, a form of hopelessness). They add up to form an actual change resistance. This actual resistance then confirms the supposed change resistance and also the measures taken to prevent further resistance.

In the end, this is a nice reinforcing loop or self-fulfilling prophecy.

What can be done to it? Well, a short answer could be to kill the loop by not assuming that there is resistance to change AND do whatever is necessary not to raise this resistance:

  • involve soon-to-be impacted people as early as possible so they can own the process
  • and involve them so they can adapt the required change to their specific variety so that the change is assured to be will fitted to the system to be change

Don’t be afraid of change resistance: just don’t awake it yourself!


Kurt Lewin model of #change and #Lean management

Traditional change models

Kurt Lewin has devised a change model known as “unfreeze-change-freeze“: clever as it is (by highlighting the fact that before changing, there’s a necessary step required to unlock the current status quo), it may not be quite adapted to Lean management as people need to indeed be in constant change when doing Lean and constantly identify new ways of improving things: so the “freeze” part is not what is expected from people in a Lean environment. Initiating a change approach would mean to start to “unfreeze-change-change-change-change-…” or, as most Lean expert would tell you: “unfreeze-change-unfreeze-change-unfreeze-change-…”

The ADKAR model of change is better to this respect because it insists on the need to reinforce the new behavior. Yet, the aspect of diffusing the change throughout the company where it could apply (process known in Lean under the name “yokoten“) and constantly improving upon it (through constant change to the “standard”) is not addressed.

Underlying mental models

There has been some implicit mental models at play in these two kind of change models (other change models feature the same underlying mental models):

  • that you can decide of a change and impose it on collaborators (lack of respect for people) or worse, on a system (worse because the system will resist it) – the Lewin model may be the worst with this respect;
  • that you can invest in the change and once it’s done, you can move on to something else: some change models even advocate for burning the bridges to move back to before (again, flagrant lack of respect for people).
  • and, worse of all (in my mind at least!) that people are dumbly resistant to any change.

For this last point, the ADKAR model tries to address this by Describing the change to impacted people: better than nothing, but still a form of coercion (or intellectual extorsion).

Changing one’s own mental models about change

When you get rid of clinging to these mental bonds, you can discover a whole new world where people are indeed attracted to change, provided it helps them and their customers. The key word here may well be “and“. Moreover, to ensure that the change is indeed what is really needed, management also has to get rid of its role of general problem solver in place of collaborators: that just removes the fun out of the work from those doing it and deprives them from any intellectual challenge, again, a lack of respect of people.


Scientific method illustration

Scientific method from


In this sense, Lean is very postmodern in its approach to change in that it moves well away from Taylorism and gives back the key to change to the very people doing the work. Even the need to change is given back to collaborators: one would not change something that needn’t; again, only those doing the work can decide about the necessity to change. I’d even dare to say that Lean may well be post-postmodern in its approach to collaborators and change in that it just doesn’t move from a blissful consideration of collaborators (as I’m sure some see postmodernism in organizations) but keeps the link with the modern approach and use of the scientific method (through the rigorous use of Plan-Do-Check-Act and fact based approach to improvements). A very nice blend of modernism and post-modernism.

What’s required for postmodern changes

Last point, this new way of seeing change is very different in that it requires constant monitoring of the need to change and the application of the scientific method to assess the effect of current change. And, the big learning here is: without constant investment in continuous improvement, it just won’t be… well continuous. That means that management, at all levels of the organization, needs to constantly invest time and efforts in challenging current status quo and encourages their collaborators to look for the need to change and what to change to, for the triple benefit of the customers, themselves and the company (a result of the two preceding benefits).

If one would look to the (unactionable) root cause of inertia, it would probably be found in the “bounded rationality” of human mind. Yet, knowing this, one has to constantly invest in fighting it, using the most intelligent means for that: constant monitoring of the environment and whether the organization is well adapted to it and, counterpart, whether it needs to change to adapt to it or not. By now, you’ve probably see where I end up: with the concept of requisite variety and the proper design of viable organizations. Topic for another article…

Some old wise man said that’s it’s a shame to see so many people wanting others to change and so few willing to change themselves. Gandhi himself told us that we need to be the change we want to see in the world.

Managers need to embody the change they want to see in their teams. First.



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