Thursday, March 28, 2013

What binds commitment and resistance?

(click to enlarge)

Judson (1991) continuum: 
It depicts the magnitude of both concepts.

Studying Behavioral Change
One of the things about doctoral studies is that the process forces you to think through even the most obvious beliefs.  In this case, I had a very smart psychology professor, Dr. Robert Schnedler, ask me what I thought to be a very profound question:

What binds resistance to commitment?

Around the same time, Daryl Conner asked me, "are you saying something about the space between resistance and commitment?"  At the time, I wasn't really sure how to answer his question.  

Individual Responses
As I contemplated Schnedler's question, I dug into Judson's depiction of resistance and commitment.  The term in scholarly research is individual responses to organizational change. It is a fairly recent topic of study.

Normal Responses
Another part of this whole PhD experience is that I actually learned things that I glossed over when I was an undergrad 20 years ago at Michigan.  The normal distribution applies to a great many things, including individual responses to change.  Here is what it would look like if applied to Judson:

One-dimensional View
Upon further analysis, I also discovered that the Judson continuum is one-dimensional is a physics sense.  A person can only check off one point in the line to describe their response to a particular change initiative.

But isn't change complex?

The whole one-dimensional label to describe change began to gnaw away at my brain.  Part of our job as change agents is to make the complex more simple.  Sometimes we oversimplify.  In this case, I think we may have.

Two-dimensional View
I set out to answer Schnedler's question and Conner's question.  As a consultant, naturally, I began to think 2x2 model.

The line between non-compliance and compliance strictly applies to the change work (extra) required from an individual in an organization.  Non-compliance can mean someone is too busy with their regular job to do be apart of the change.  For example, a nurse needs to take care of his or her patients.  If they have a new electronic charting system that takes up so much time they would never see their patients, a nurse would be in the "non-compliance" part of the model.  This has nothing to do with intention.  

It is all about actual behavior.

Political concern is just another way of portraying the public-private continuum.  For example, if an employee openly opposes a change initiative, they are likely to be labeled a trouble-maker and be fired.  If they value the security of their job, they are likely to keep their opposition hidden (concealed).  In the same way, many employees do not want to be labeled as a suck-up to management either.

Beyond Change Readiness
Currently, about a dozen organizations have expressed interest in being apart of this research.  I am looking for more organizations to study.  It is academic research, but has very practical application.

If you want to allocate your change management implementation resources more effectively, go to to find out how to be apart of this research.  Here is an example of the real-time data you would receive that will help you course correct your change effort post-launch.


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