What are the common sources of resistance to change?

What are the common sources of resistance to change?

Scott Berkun has a great quote about resistance to ideas: The default state of an idea is non-adoption.

Reflecting on this quote, it useful to consider why that is so. For many reasons, people, in any arena, will resist change. That is just the way it is, so it is best to expect it.

While too many to list, there are commonalities between them. Here are five common sources of resistance to change:

  1. Inertia. Existing relationships, satisfaction with the status quo, laziness and busyness hinder change.
  2. Indecision. People believe that their decisions are based on free will, and having more options gives them a sense of freedom. Yet when it comes time to make a decision, people will hesitate because it means reducing their options.
  3. Fear of making mistakes. This one goes with the previous point, as people avoid making decisions to not make mistakes.
  4. Lack of best practices. Most people are followers, so they need a “role model” to follow. If none exists, they won’t have behavior to copy.
  5. People don’t care about your product/service because they don’t like it. While there are ways to be make yourself and your ideas likeable, you can’t force people to like you or your ideas. Just because it makes sense doesn’t mean people will care.

So, in thinking about why your idea might not work, consider the above list of resistors.

Remember, resistance to change is the norm, not the exception.

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  • Kevin McFarthing

    Hi Jorge, good points. There are also some short term practical resistors when trying to get ideas adopted by busy people, which are –

    1. How much time will this take to adopt (‘cos I’m really busy…..) and

    2. How will this help/hinder the achievement of my short term objectives?

    If good ideas make peoples lives easier, they’ll be more likely to be adopted.


    • Hi Kevin, great points.

      Easy = adoption.

      Another way to look at it is to “shrink the change”.



  • Great points, Jorge.

    They remind me of the five reasons that prospective customers do not buy:
    – no want
    – no need
    – no hurry
    – no money
    – no trust
    which is not surprising because, of course, buying is adoption too!

    All the best,

    • Hey had never heard of those before. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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