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Jason Furness


Six Layers of Resistance, Part 3

Obstacles to implementing the solution, and unverbalized fear

Published: Wednesday, January 6, 2016 - 13:39

In part one of this three-part series, we looked at the first two layers of resistance to change. Part two looked at the second two layers. Here we look at the final two layers, obstacles to implementing the proposed solution, and unverbalized fear. We are close to achieving true buy-in, but hurdles still remain that must be diligently, thoroughly, and supportively crossed.

Layer 4: Obstacles to implementing the proposed solution

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”
—Hanna More

In layer 4 we turn toward the implementation of the solution. We may all agree and support what needs to be done; however, there can be barriers from external sources or other areas that we perceive as preventing implementation of our solution. Once again we want to encourage everyone in the group to raise any possible obstacle to implementation, and for the group to design a solution to overcoming the obstacle. Our goal is to have the group so confident in the complete and detailed solution plan that they can’t wait to implement it.

A group I worked with was prevented from implementing a solution because of the way their performance was measured. The performance measures that were in place forced them to take the exact opposite actions from those that were best for the business. This was raised as an obstacle, and the performance measures (that were outside their control) were changed. Measurements that relate to some form of efficiency are notorious for causing this sort of problem. In this case, measurements were changed, buy-in was achieved, and the solution progressed.

Layer 5: Unverbalized fear

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare. It is because we do not dare they are difficult.”

Layer 5 is a complex layer and not always encountered. Sometimes there remains a fear or concern that has not been verbalized. In that case, it’s necessary to connect with the individual involved and step through the layers of resistance once more to discover the source of the unverbalized fear. You can then help that person express and deal with the concern. Watch for someone saying “yes,” even as their body language and behaviors say “no.”

True buy-in

Ownership is the essential transition point for a solution to move from theoretically interesting to achieving complete buy-in by the individuals and groups involved. Throughout the analysis and discussion to explore and move through the layers of resistance, we are progressively building buy-in, and at some point people move to owning the solution. Implementation becomes much easier and faster the greater the level of buy-in from the people affected.

First published on the Manufacturship blog.


About The Author

Jason Furness’s picture

Jason Furness

Jason Furness, CEO and founder of Manufacturship, is an executive coach who provides lean manufacturing training and lean consulting in a pragmatic, hands-on way that gets clients results in a fast and sustainable manner. Furness oversees the development and delivery of Manufacturship’s curriculum, leads the mentoring of business owners and managers, and sponsors all client projects. During his 20-year career he has led 30 transformation projects for small and medium-sized enterprises. Furness is the co-author of Manufacturing Money: How CEOs Rapidly Lift Profits in Manufacturing (Amazon Digital Services, 2015).