Tutorial: A Model for Overcoming Human Resistance to Change

Figure 1 depicts the elements of a change model and the sequence in which they occur.

Figure 1 Change model for making change work Figure 2

In the center of the figure, all changes move from the current state, through a transition phase, into the desired improvement state.

  • In the beginning, it’s important to create, or affirm, a broadly understood need for the change (creating a shared need).
  • You also need to create and disseminate an idea of what the outcome will look like (shaping a vision).
  • As the change effort gets underway, and until the end, there must always be sufficient resources dedicated to it (mobilizing commitment).
  • As work gets completed, you must have a way to track it (monitoring progress).
  • You also must assure that it reaches completion (finishing the job).
  • From the very beginning until the end, the change effort must have the backing of management, and leadership from an accountable person or people (leading change).

At all stages, you must assure that the change will fit in the environment: the organizational structure, the business culture, the work processes, etc. For example, if you are automating a paper-based system, you must make sure that the users will not simply keep using the old paper system as well. You need to address work-flow changes, including training and education, rewards and recognition and transition planning, so that the new system will be aligned with the work environment.

For the highest assurance that a particular change will succeed, all seven steps of the change model should be in place. (See Figure 2.) If one area is weak it doesn’t necessarily mean disaster, but it does present a real risk. If you do choose to take a risk, you should do so in light of the potential consequences.

Figure 2 Elements of the change model Figure 2

Excerpted from Brien Palmer, Making Change Work: Practical Tools for Overcoming Human Resistance to Change, ASQ Quality Press, 2004, pages xv-xvi, 7–9.

Featured advertisers


ASQ is a global community of people passionate about quality, who use the tools, their ideas and expertise to make our world work better. ASQ: The Global Voice of Quality.
People Create Quality