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Jason Furness


Six Layers of Resistance, Part 2

Disagreeing on the solution, and undesirable side effects

Published: Tuesday, January 5, 2016 - 12:55

In part one of this three-part series, we moved through the initial and often overlooked layers of resistance: first, why change; and second, how to overcome disagreement on the nature of the problem. Here we move on to the next two layers, namely, disagreeing on the solution and undesirable side effects.

Layer 2: Disagreeing on the nature of a solution

It is more important to know where you are going than to get there quickly. Don’t mistake activity for achievement.

Just as there are many opinions about the problem that is being experienced, there are usually just as many opinions as to what should be done about it. If layer 1 has been transited successfully, the range of opinions about the solution will have narrowed substantially. However, there will still be many characteristics of a good solution that different people desire.

The objective of this phase of the analysis is to improve the solution as it stands so that it increases the number of desirable features that will be delivered by its implementation. This builds buy-in for the solution among the people involved and affected.

Layer 3: The proposed solution has undesirable side effects

“The chief cause of problems is solutions.”
—Sevareid’s Law

Layer 3 is the domain of the cynic, the saboteur, the disillusioned, and the disenfranchised. By this stage you have agreed that change is necessary, you have agreed on the problem, and have discovered a solution that will solve that problem. From the back of the room a voice is raised. The long-serving and quiet icon of the department gains everyone attention. This person has survived numerous administrations and change programs. Everyone turns to listen to him as he says, “That’s all very well, but...,” and out comes a side effect of your solution that is so damaging that it will kill the solution that has been developed and cuts down all the great work that has been done so far.

But no! Layer 3 thrives on the input of the naysayer and the skeptic. We need their skepticism to save us from our enthusiasm. The surfacing of the negative side effects of our solution must be encouraged and supported, not suppressed. Suppression will split the group, and may well mean that valid concerns aren’t expressed and dealt with.

Our objective here is to have everyone express the things that can go wrong with the solution, and then be actively involved in finding additional activities that can eliminate the possible negative side effects.

By doing this we strengthen the solution and build continued buy-in by all the people involved. Examining these issues while the solution is still theoretical is powerful because it’s easier to deal with problems when they are abstract rather than when you are under pressure halfway through an implementation. After this useful discussion about possible negative side effects, layer 3 is passed through.

In my next installment, we’ll cover the final two layers of resistance.

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).