Resistance to change and the rep effect

During my body pump class yesterday I was mulling over the discussion we had at work last week on resistance to change. The body pump class works on The Rep Effect … 'In a typical BODYPUMP class you'll perform 800 reps.' It is 'a breakthrough in resistance training that helps create long, lean muscles and a toned, strong physique'. Hmm – is the rep effect adaptable to organisations?

It's definitely worth exploring adapting 'The Rep Effect' for organisational use as we want our organisation to be toned, lean and strong. Even better, The Rep Effect 'is proven to deliver a total body transformation' and like many other organisations we want our organisation to be transformed. We even have a Business Transformation function. There might be a blockbuster management book in this idea.

Shall I write the book? No. I'm already resisting writing the 3rd edition of my book Organisation Design: Engaging with Change, that the publisher has asked if I will do. Will I have to perform 800 repetitions of the word 'no' to convince her? Or is she going to convince me by the 800 reasons why writing a third edition is a good idea?

Oh – just a minute, in repeating 'no' aren't I using a different technique I learned years ago in assertiveness training classes called 'broken record', that's when you are trying to resist persuasion: you 'simply repeat the same words of refusal. You may have to do this a number of times, but eventually they will get the message'.

I guess the publisher will be trying the opposite technique. In this method you keep repeating the same words of persuasion until eventually the person you are trying to persuade gets the message. I've just found twenty-one principles of persuasion and see that one of them is 'Persistence Pays', 'the person who is willing to keep asking for what they want, and keeps demonstrating value, is ultimately the most persuasive'.

So we are each using techniques endemic to protagonists/antagonists in the organisation change arena. And now I've found a list of 65 (yes 65!) 'resistance techniques that can be used to slow down the proceedings and hold your own (and for persuaders, these are just a few of the things you may face)'. With these in use can we hope to transform the organisation and make it slim, trim, and dynamic?

In our bid to transform the organisation do we have a stand-off? We have 65 ways of resistance, and 21 ways of persuading (but if you assume that the persuasion is 3 times as powerful as the resistance you end up with pretty much 65 ways of persuading too).

So, for each transformation suggestion we could face off a resistor and a persuader against each other in 800 rounds of metaphorical arm wrestling, maybe over 65 days with appropriate selection processes to match competitors, and with milestones, gateways, governance on proceeding to the next round and so on. (Hang on – I think some of these could be viewed by the resistors as legitimate for fair competition and by the persuaders as obfuscating process).

But surely having a competitive challenge isn't the best way to get to transformation? Actually, in my experience both resistors and persuaders have legitimate points of view. Maybe instead we could do what happens in Body Pump – the resistant muscles work with the persuasive mind and together get to the transformed body. Should we work out how change resistors and change persuaders can together orchestrate organisational transformation? Let me know.

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