What type of resistance do you meet when you seek change to improve profits or impact? What do people say when you identify an obvious threat to the organization or an opportunity for it?

It feels like there might be greater resistance to change this year. In an article about posttraumatic growth, Richard Tedeschi describes 2020 saying, “What good can come of this? ... This year we’ve been hit by a pandemic that has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, unprecedented unemployment, and a global economic downturn. In the face of such a tragedy … it might appear that the answer is ‘Nothing.’”

Your organization has likely seen disruption, shifting markets and rapidly changing customer needs. Fundamental changes are necessary to address threats and seize opportunities. As the great W. Edwards Deming once said, “It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.”

What excuses do people make for inaction? I’ve heard these:

  • The continuing uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic …
  • Sales are down ...
  • Change feels like a risk ...

How many times have you heard, “let’s wait and see?”

Jonah Berger makes it clear that people inherently resist change in his book, “The Catalyst: How To Change Anyone’s Mind.” There is something that feels natural about “pushing back.” Berger shows the effectiveness of reducing barriers to change. He created an acronym, REDUCE, to categorize the types of hurdles.

  • Reactance
  • Endowment
  • Distance
  • Uncertainty
  • Corroborating Evidence

Art Markman suggests another approach to convince people. He says, “The best way to get anyone to believe something is to have them come up with the idea for themselves.” Team based problem solving is like “building the path.” It provides them the framework to find the root cause(s) as well as create and select solutions for change themselves.

Lean Six Sigma is the team based problem solving method of choice for people in your organization to develop the ideas for change themselves. Three common Lean Six Sigma tools also lower the barriers to change caused by roadblocks Berger identified.


Berger cites distance between your perspective and that of others as a roadblock. Gemba is a tool that closes this gap. It is a Japanese term used to describe going to where the work is done and learning what is actually happening. It is very similar to “deep canvassing” presented by Berger. Use this tool to find the “zone of acceptance” and make small practical changes to move closer to the desired change.

Root Cause Analysis

While there is often a need for change, people don’t always understand “why” or believe the need exists. A fundamental aspect of Lean Six Sigma is finding the root cause(s) of the problem, the driver of the “need” for change. Team members engage in this to find the underlying problem and the proof they need. Root cause analysis provides the corroborating evidence to reduce resistance to change.

Prioritization Matrix

How many times have you heard people say, “Can you believe ‘their’ idea?” or “Management thinks we should…” Teams following the Lean Six Sigma methodology create many of their own ideas for solutions. They utilize a prioritization matrix to select the solutions (change) to implement. This tool is similar to the “menu” concept Berger references. People choose the change rather than being pushed to change.


Change is essential for both survival and growth. It is complex and challenging especially with all of the systems, processes, hierarchy, etc. within organizations. These three tools lower the hurdles and provide a path for your team to convince themselves to change.

Click here to schedule a free session to learn more about these tools and a path to change.