Another excellent post John.

It reminded me of these two great quotes:

“Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world. This is an error of the intellect as inevitable as that error of the eye which lets us fancy that on the horizon heaven and earth meet. This explains many things, and among them the fact that everyone measures us with his own standard—generally about as long as a tailor's tape, and we have to put up with it: as also that no one will allow us to be taller than himself—a supposition which is once for all taken for granted.” – Arthur Schopenhauer, Studies in Pessimism (1851) Further Psychological Observations [69]

"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." — Max Planck, Scientific autobiography, 1950, p. 33, 97

The latter is sometimes paraphrased as "Science progresses one funeral at a time".

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Thanks for this post John, I really enjoyed it. It kind of touches a point that I have been reflecting about for a few months now....Are people really resistant to change or, are we just naming the wrong things wrongly? I have some questions about your post and maybe this isn't the right place for them, sorry for that in advance.

Maybe I could challenge you to deepen this "resistance to change" concept further in your future post. I've been reading some articles of some less traditional org. transformation authors, who say they don't believe people resist to change (per se). Considering the fact that people change stuff in their lives all the time, they alternatively seem to propose that people resist being changed ("I'll change but only on my own terms") or people resist to the methods being used by those who want to implement change.

Reading your post (and the essay- which I did), I'm kind of finding some additional arguments to support these authors' beliefs about change. I mean, maybe people aren't resisting change, it may be the case that they can't understand the proposed alternatives as those don't fit their current belief framework/language.

The resistance to change would then be a resistance to the methods being used by the change agents: "when instigating change we need to invest significant effort in paradigm alignment. We need to ensure the executive team absorbs the underlying conceptual framework of the proposed initiative. Otherwise, our efforts will be as futile as the hapless K’s."

Which prompts another question: how about would we be doing this then? This paradigm alignment? Is it by means of evidence? (but then, we can't just use one piece of evidence, according to the suppressed nucleation strategy) Or, do we have to work in the language we are using? (in the essay Polanyi's says that "language may then be said to form an idiom of beliefs")

Should we be putting more effort in translating the alternatives into the current belief's language (and how?) or, should we start by teaching people a new language that will allow them to slowly build a new idiom that will then allow people to express their (new) belief in a new conceptual framework?

Oh boy... maybe these are all to conceptual too! The fact of the matter is that resistance to change is something I see so popularised (and maybe rightly so) and even used as an excuse to not try any change at all, and it's a concept that I would love to be able to explore more. If you're not inclined to deepen it (which is totally legitimate) can you recommend some further reading on it? Thank you in advance!

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Thanks so much for your comment, Claudia. I am going to briefly answer this now, and ponder an expansion in a later post as you suggested.

1. I agree that people don't resist change per se. People change all the time.

2. The resistance I refer to is the type that comes from senior exec after extensive research into the change effort has been conducted and the team present their recommendations only to get a response like "well, that's not going to fly". I believe this is usually because of belief system divergence - the senior exec simply don't understand how it will work for reasons presented in this article.

3. Yes, the resistance is often a result of poor method

4. re:"how about would we be doing this then?" - I'll be addressing this in future transmissions but the short answer is education. To help C-suite get their heads around Agile, teach them the theory. To help the C-suite get their heads around digital transformation, teach them the theory. To help the C-suite get their heads around adaptive organisations, teach them the theory. The language flows from the theory (e.g., I couldn't use the term 'Bayesian inference' without teaching you some theory so that it makes sense)

5. Tonight's timebox has expired and I now need to switch to family mode

Thanks again :)

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John, thank you very much. Makes perfect sense everything you said. Please do switch to family mode while I add "Bayesian inference" to my "to study" list. Looking forward for the next post-bureaucratic insights.

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