Dealing with Change

Gleicher’s Formula for change – created by Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher – provides a useful framework within which to consider how and why people do what they do.

The formula states that people will change when D x V x F  are greater than R… where D is Dissatisfaction with the present, V equals Vision of the future, F equals First steps and R equals Resistance.

Translated back into the language that I have been using in these different posts, V is the upside, F is a way of making that upside look more likely in the minds of the throng by making it apparently easy to obtain and R is the nature and likelihood of the downside. D is interesting though because D pertains to an aspect of human motivation that I want to write a lot more about in the future.

The fact is that the people whom Gleicher and his acolyte want to change using their equation – like all of us in any situation where a decision must be made – have a CHOICE between one course of action or another, maybe many: Whether to hold the door open or not, what to select from the menu, which bank to give our money to, which car to buy, which school to entrust with our children, whether to drive or get the train, turn left or right, jump or stay put…

And each of these options or opportunities available to us has its own unique Expectation. Why we do what we do is a result of not just one but many – maybe even a huge number – of Expectation calculations which we do in the moment of decision as we consider the possible futures of a large number of potential scenarios and then decide to do the one which comes out best for us.

D – Dissatisfaction with the present can roughly be translated as potential downside of NOT changing and therefore may very well include potential negative reinforcement of such a choice although, in the positive atmosphere of management-speak, it is not voiced in those terms! According to Versario (1980) only 10% of management efforts in change programmes are focused on negative reinforcement with 90% concentrated on “selling the benefits” or creating the V of the positive choice to do what ultimately management want people to do. This may well make for a nicer world but not necessarily the most efficient use of those scarce resources time energy and money.

When weighing up the different possible courses of action and behavior open to them, if people perceive a great deal of possible pain associated with the downside of making the decision to change and very little possible pain associated with the decision not to – guess which has the better expectation in the moment of their decision?

Posted 02:35pm by Caspar and filed in Decision Making, Leadership