Maya Townsend, Elizabeth Doty

Change champions need to draw out others’ opinions about the reasons their hunch won’t work as a starting point for problem-solving and design. By treating the potential downsides and limitations of an idea as legitimate, rational concerns, people can work together to design solutions that both achieve intended goals and preserve what the organization wishes to safeguard while building commitment to implementation.


So-called resisters have … [ Read more ]

Elizabeth Doty

Rather than assuming critical thinkers are resisters, we would do better to treat them as guardians. Guardians see what needs to be protected, and the trust that can be destroyed by a broken promise or a shortcut. Who else will ask the hard questions? Guardians keep us honest in the face of self-delusion or blind spots. […] When you approach guardians as responsible, thinking adults … [ Read more ]

How to Accelerate Learning on Your Team

As Peter Senge wrote in The Fifth Discipline (Doubleday Business, 1990), a learning organization is one in which “people continually expand their capacity to create results they truly desire.” When we view learning in this broader sense, we build feedback right into the system as an integral part of the work. If you want to accelerate learning on your team, first engage them in a … [ Read more ]

Us versus Them: Reframing Resistance to Change

Anyone attempting to lead change in an organization knows to expect some resistance. Change is not a rational process; no matter how positive the future you are creating, it’s natural for humans to struggle with it. Faced with negative remarks, critical questions, or stony silence, change champions naturally begin to interact more with those already on board, consciously or unconsciously distancing themselves from those who … [ Read more ]

Finding the “Herbie” in Your Change Initiative

Eli Goldratt’s 1984 classic, The Goal, introduced his “theory of constraints,” the idea that, in the face of interdependencies and variability, maximizing the activity of each part in a system reduces the output of the system. Drawing on the analogy of a scout troop on a hike, Goldratt showed that only one factor determined how fast they would get to their destination: the speed of … [ Read more ]

Lynn Sharp Paine, Elizabeth Doty

As Lynn Sharp Paine noted […] most companies are simply not designed to remember commitments over time—let alone communicate them clearly, hand them off between departments, or adjust them effectively as priorities change.

Five Ways to Reverse the Downward Spiral of Distrust

The best time to invest in relationships, alignment, and trust is in the early stages. But what can you do when the team is already stuck in withdrawal or gridlock? The precise moment when trust is most needed is often when it is hardest to get people to the table. In my experience working with teams, the following five strategies can help.

Does Your Company Keep Its Promises?

Despite best intentions, many businesses struggle with “commitment drift.”