Thursday, October 3, 2019

Change is Like a Kaleidoscope

Blog by Tracy Butz, CSP 

A common metaphor for experiencing change is that it is like a journey. Your current reality is point A, your desired outcome is point B, and the change process is the journey from A to B. You anticipate forks in the road (choices), roadblocks (obstacles), and milestones. You climb a metaphorical hill to get a clearer perspective and create a vehicle (strategy) to get us to point B. The problem is that a journey is not a path like you see on a map. With a journey—it is unclear as to how to reach the desired destination or outcome. Also, there is usually more than one way or one possible solution. 

A better, more empowering metaphor is that change is like a kaleidoscope. You look through the eyepiece and see a colorful pattern. With one tiny nudge of the barrel, you instantly create a new pattern, which is totally different, and the change is often permanent—just like what happens in business.    

And when change occurs, businesses and/or individuals tend to fall into one of three groups; those who: 
  1. Embrace change and thrive or
  2. Adapt to change and survive or
  3. Resist change and fade away…which none of us want!
In order to alter your mindset and behavior about change and learn to embrace it, one common dynamic to prepare for and work effectively through is negative resistance. 

When employees/individuals are going through a change:
  • 20% are “Embrace Change Immediately” - get on board and support it.
  • 30% are “Resistors” - dig their heels in and oppose it.
  • 50% are “Fence-sitters” - sit on the fence and take their time to decide.
Of these three groups, which do you think is the loudest? Which group gets more time and attention? And which group gives you back the least, in terms of investment of time? If you answered “Resistors” for all three questions, you guessed right. 

The tipping point for influencing others during times of change happens at about one-third. When one-third of the group or organization behave a certain way, the organization tips that way, and the change effort either fails or succeeds.  

If part of the Fence-Sitter group would hop off the fence to support the change, then the organization would tip, and the pace of the change accelerates with a successful outcome. 

But who is also recruiting from the Fence-sitter group? Yes…those nasty Resistors. And how many percentage points do they need to get to one-third? The answer is only three percent! So, as a change influencer, where should you be spending all of your time? Devote all your time and energy on influencing the Fence-sitters.  

Some resistance to change is normal. It is a natural attempt to slow things down, to a point of manageability; yet, when the resistance becomes overly negative, it can bring a change initiative to a crushing halt.  

So take one [tiny] nudge—or step—to positively influence change around you. When you do, you will experience a new [colorful] pattern to help continue to propel your team/organization forward, allowing it to further thrive for many years to come.  


  1. Thanks very much - I appreciate the analogy and the statistics.

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