MYTH # 5 – Resistance – A Barrier To Overcome?


‘Overcoming resistance to change (RTC)’ was first mentioned by Coch & French in 1948. Since then, OCM has become fixated with RTC with some stating that ‘The natural reaction to change is resistance’ (ADKAR 2010).


ADKAR identify 8 types of RTC which are all individual. Resistance is generally conceived as an inappropriate behaviour exhibited by individuals – something that needs to be overcome. There is little high-quality evidence to support this view (ten Have 2017). Research shows a weak relationship between RTC & project success & causation is questioned – does change drive resistance or is RTC a result of a general dissatisfaction at work? Rather than being an individual phenomena, RTC was originally conceived by Lewin as a system phenomenon resulting from the way change is managed. From trust in leadership to psychological disposition, studies on RTC suggest there could be up to 40 factors affecting organisational, group or individual RTC which could arise due to the change itself or how & why the change is being implemented.


Rather than viewing people as a barrier to change we should seek to understand the underlying causes of RTC. This way RTC is viewed as key metric that indicates something within the ‘system’ needs attention.



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