So you’re thinking of launching your change programme, started planning and preparing the contents of your Change Project Plan and putting together your communications plan – what next?So you’re thinking of launching your change programme, started planning and preparing the contents of your Change Project Plan and putting together your communications plan – what next?
It is probably time to think about the types of resistance you might meet along the way.  Initially with the whole change concept.  How will people respond to the idea of changing at all? (see for some info on my “process of Transition” about the individual’s journey through change).
However as it is probably impractical to ask every employee their thoughts and opinions it might be worth combining a series of focus groups and awareness raising sessions with what is, for me, one of the best (if not the best) tools for exploring resistance to change!The key role we, as change agents have to play in facilitating change is to identify why people resist change, what their drives and needs are and what we then need to do to help them come to terms with, and “buy into”, that change.

The key question most of us ask when faced with change is “what’s in it for me?”, or we say that “there was nothing wrong with the way things were so why should I change”?

So I want to share my favourite technique for facilitating the change conversation and uncovering blockers and resistance to change.  The answers we get can then be prioritised and integrated straight into the change plan.

This is a simple, but elegant, method, devised by Finn Tschudi, (1977) and called the ABC technique.  It provides a very useful framework for engaging with people and identifying why they won’t change or what may stop them from embracing change and looks at the meaning applied by the individual to the change programme, their opinion of the up and downside, its benefits and any implications thus allowing for a conversation and as the start for engaging them in the process.

I’ve used this technique with both groups to help them create a shared understanding of the potential and with individuals on a one-to-one basis.

So to the technique itself; first you need to create two columns and at the top of each column clearly state what the current and desired situations are (row A).

Then you get the group to brainstorm or list all the negative elements associated with the current situation in the first column and all the positive things you’ll get by moving to the new situation or behaviour in the second column (row B).

Finally, and to my mind the most powerful part of the model, you identify all the things you’ll either be loosing by going through with the change and/or all the negative associations with the change in the second column.

You then look at what, if any, positives do you get from the current situation, what are the good things about the here and now, what do you get from carrying on as normal, etc. and list these in the first column (row C).

Once you have completed your lists you can then start to analyse the answers with your client.  You are looking for potential blockers to change.  You need to start exploring relative values and weightings of these blockers and decide how to overcome them.

If row C contains anything that is more important than row B the person will resist changing!  This allows you to manage the change process and overcome the blockers.

In order to help bring the model to life and make sense of the technique, below is are some examples that groups of team leaders created as part of a series of Managing Change workshops I recently ran.

At the time the parent company was faced with the choice of building a brand new plant (in a different country) to cope with projected extra work or remain in their current premises and “make do”.  The workforce saw this proposal as managements’ way of closing them down and transferring the work elsewhere.  Hence there was a groundswell of resistance to the move.


On reflecting on their ABC assessment, the first two teams consistently decided that the argument for change and building a new plant far outweighed the argument against.  They also recognised that if they stayed as they were they wouldn’t be able to cope with the extra capacity and that, ironically, it meant that they would actually be closed and so they went on to champion the move – to the extent that some went on to spent time training the new staff in the new facility over the following 18 months.

with the third team they looked at moving shift patterns and decided that the status quo was more economically and socially acceptable and hence show where the company need to focus their efforts at influencing and changing opinion.

You can extend the value and effectiveness of the lists by getting the participants to give all their statements a rating (e.g. between 1 – 5 or 1 – 10) and then total up the scores for the argument to stay and change in order to identify priorities etc.

ref: Tschudi F. (1977), Loaded and Honest Questions, in Bannister D (ed), New Perspectives in Personal Construct Theory, Academic Press, London