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Overcoming Resistance to Change: Understanding J-Curve Effect in Business

Have you ever wondered how many initiatives can (or should) be implemented simultaneously? This is an issue that has confronted leaders time and time again. Everyone is busy. Many people and organizations are stuck in their conventional thinking and practices. So how do executives confront resistance to change, and achieve company objectives?

This month in my Vistage Group meetings our speaker was Jerry Jellison, Ph.D, USC, who taught on the topic of human dynamics of change and overcoming objections. He spoke methodologically of the stages of fear, anger, and self doubt that employees often experience in face of new initiatives. The presentation was useful to identify the J-curve glide slope of free fall into the new initiative, the doubters who want the old way of doing things, and the bottoming out of resistance as the new initiatives start to work. Then there is gradual support and buy-in by the organizational resistors, who over-time will see the value in the positive changes.

For Jellison, the stages of the J-Curve are...

  1. Static Quo

  2. The Plunge (into the new initiative or action)

  3. Bottoming out

  4. Gaining control

  5. Mastery

For those seeking to implement changes in organization, Jellison says organizations need to focus, focus, and focus on the new initiative. He suggests using a 'GLIIDE' path to cross-walk the team to the new initiative and overcoming resistance. Wherein GLIIDE means..

  • Ground Level... words that communicate specific actions

  • Involvement... produced by asking before you tell

  • Incentives... front loading benefits

  • Direct path... make it easy to get started, remove barriers and obstructions, and provide your personal assistance.


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