TAG Consulting


People Don’t Resist Change


We don’t often reprint the material of others on this blog, but this classic passage from Ronald Heifetz, Marty Linsky, and Alexander Grashow is of perpetual interest when it comes to the leadership question of why change is so hard.

“You know the adage ‘People resist change’. It is not really true. People are not stupid. People love change when they know it is a good thing. No one gives back a winning lottery ticket. What people resist is not change per se, but loss. When change involves real or potential loss, people hold on to what they have and resist the change. We suggest that the common factor generating adaptive failure is resistance to loss….

The question is not only, ‘Of all that we care about, what must be give up to survive and thrive going forward?’ but also, ‘Of all that we care about, what elements are essential and must be preserved into the future, or will we lose precious values, core competencies, and lose who we are?’. As in nature, a successful adaptation enables an organization or community to take the best from its traditions, identity, and history into the future”.


From The Practice of Adaptive Leadership (2009, Harvard Business Review Press).