In this episode, author, speaker, and consultant Linda Rising helps us to better understand resistance to change and some of the myths and patterns associated with leading organizational change.

Linda Rising is consultant, speaker and author of four books on topics ranging from organizational change to patterns in software development.

After listening to this episode, you will understand:

  • The myths of organizational change that lead us down the wrong path
  • Why simply stating facts doesn’t persuade people
  • How you can convert naysayers into allies

Show Notes


Linda Rising has combined her knowledge of neuroscience and software design patterns to develop ways to better influence organizational change. Along the way, she had identified some myths and patterns that stall organizational change initiatives.


The Myths
Myth #1: Smart people make decisions rationally and can be persuaded by a presentation of facts and benefits.

Fact: People aren’t rational decision makers. Research results from the field of economics shows us that we are in fact irrational. We make decisions for a variety of reasons such as emotion and even reasons that may be hidden to ourselves.

How to address this myth: Be aware that people aren’t rational decision makers and have a set of cognitive biases that we need to overcome. Approach change with a personal touch. Take the advice of Stephen Covey and “seek first to understand and then be understood”. Instead of concentrating on your message, focus on the audience, the person who is afraid of the change, the person with anxiety, and put yourself in the other person’s shoes to understand their point of view. This goes beyond explaining what’s in it for them.


Myth #2: The idea is so good, that the quality itself is convincing. We believe that good ideas will triumph in the end.

Fact: This is known as the “just world fallacy”. There’s plenty of history to show us that often bad ideas win over good ideas. It’s not about goodness. It’s not about rationality. It’s about trying to understand the deep seeded feelings and needs of other people.

How to address this myth: Use the Fear-Less Pattern. Sometimes seeking to understand others is enough to convince them to be open to your idea. Instead of avoiding them, seek out people who are negative or are “naysayers” and seek to understand their perspective. Don’t try to reason or argue with them. Be genuinely, sincerely interested in what they have to say.

“Listen them into agreeing with you.”

Let naysayers play the role of Champion-Skeptic. It’s useful to have someone in a discussion who sees the downside so that you can understand possible issues and have a broader understanding of concerns. It also keeps the group from getting carried away with an idea without considering the downside and alternatives.


Bonus Tip: Do food. We’re hard wired to have food on the table when we get together with people we trust. Having food makes us more trustful and more open to ideas. It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant . . . just a little food makes people more open to new ideas. This even works with distributed teams by sharing a recipe and sharing the food during the meeting.


What can we start doing today and see positive results right away?
Remember that none of us make rational decisions. There are many biases that we carry around with us that get in the way of making rational decisions. Call up the fact that we have biases and combat those biases by slowing things down by counting from 10 to one. If in a meeting that requires a critical, contentious decision, consider taking a break to slow things down.


What’s Your Take?
Do you have any tips or suggestions for leading organizational change iniatives?  Please share in the comments below.


Links mentioned in this episode

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