Leading change in an organization is full of challenges. Most of these challenges are associated with creating a vision, inspiring action, achieving buy-in, and sustaining the change. John Kotter, noted for his work on this topic, offers an 8 step process that offers an excellent roadmap.

I am noticing a 1/2 step challenge of change, that while banal, can derail a change initiative when ignored. This oft unheralded challenge is simply that everyone hears through their own filter, and therefore the actions we see are not the actions we expected. Obvious perhaps, and yet when leading change, we sometimes think that things are not happening the way we want because people are resisting.

  • Sometimes, they simply didn’t hear
  • or what they heard is different from what I thought I said
  • or they need to hear it more than once; 7 times I have been told is the magic number
  • or they need to do it more than once, or even twice, to “get it”
  • or we simply need to allow time for the change to settle in

So, next time, before calling out a “resister”, first pause and ask them what they heard.



Elisa K. Spain

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