Are you working on a change initiative? Overcome resistance to change using Goldratt’s Four Quadrants of Change.

A lot of people talk about how difficult change is and how people resist change.  People don’t actually resist change; they respond to a change by evaluating the change across four dimensions.  These four dimensions make up Goldratt’s Four Quadrant’s on Change.

The reason getting someone to change is hard or we perceive that people are resisting change is because we often only look at one of those dimensions; the positive consequence associated with the change.

Most of us ignore the negative consequences of the change as well as the pluses and minuses of not changing.

We need to present all four sides from the other person’s perspective.  Look at the pluses and minuses of changing as well as the pluses and minuses of not changing.

  • What’s the pot of gold or benefit for the person you’re trying to influence?
  • What are their crutches – their risks, obstacles, and effort associated with the change?
  • What are their alligators – their current problems that will be solved by the change?
  • What are their mermaids – the things they consider positive today that they may lose with the change?
Goldratt's Four Quadrants of Change

Are there enough positives to outweigh the negatives?  Is the pot of gold is large enough, alligator is dangerous enough, the effort and risk are small enough, and is the loss of the mermaids small enough?

Remember to look at each of these dimensions from the other person’s perspective.  If you’re working with a group of stakeholders, each may have different pots of gold, crutches, alligators, and mermaids.

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