Project Management

Staying Ahead of the Curve: How to Combat Resistance to Change

PMI Queensland Australia Chapter

Carleton Chinner is the Managing Director of MagniStrat, a Brisbane, Australia-based project consultancy specializing in program capability maturity improvement. Carleton works on large complex projects and is often called upon to speak about his experiences.

Years ago while I was implementing a new software solution, I received an internal office envelope containing a single page printed on a dot matrix printer (this was long after the dot matrix had been replaced by laser printers). A few days passed, and I received a phone call from one of our regional offices. The content of that rather lengthy conversation could be summarized as, “Seven years ago, I had this report and I want it back.”

While seven years might be a long time to resist moving on to a new solution, resistance to new change is a far too common occurrence on projects. No matter what kind of project you are working on, the basis of our profession is to change the way things are now. Unfortunately, there will always be stakeholders who react to what is happening.

A technique I have found very useful in understanding and leveraging stakeholder behavior is to view the Kübler-Ross Change Curve through the prism of various stakeholders. Elizabeth Kübler-Ross originally developed her curve as a description of the various stages of grieving that occurred during a terminal illness. Her basic premise has been widely adopted as a technique that aids in understanding people’s emotional reaction to a change that affects their life.

A second technique that is also very useful is viewing your group of stakeholders through the lens of Everett …


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