About The Change Gym

By |2019-11-27T10:29:19+11:00November 27th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

We are a team of change specialists helping organisations and individuals build more capacity to succeed at the change process. For your organisation to become more agile and successful at change, you should develop your change readiness.

Change readiness is a major factor in the success or failure of change projects. It influences how much engagement or resistance you encounter and whether you are likely to be successful. 

Change readiness has an inner and outer dimension. The inner refers to the psychological fitness of stakeholders to be successful at the change process no matter how challenging it is. The outer refers to the readiness of the leadership team and other organisational elements to respond effectively to the demands of the change process, and to nurture people through the process.

Our team specialises in building change fitness in individuals (inner dimension) and change readiness in organisations (outer dimension). You need to do both. According to research, the main cause of failure in organisational change is resistance from employees (an inner dimension problem). Employees with high levels of change fitness are more likely to be engaged and supportive, and less likely to resist.

Research also highlights the second main cause of change failure – poor management. Issues like how you approach change, how you structure interventions, and how and what you communicate all impact the organisation’s change readiness.

Organisational change readiness emerges when the inner change fitness of employees to succeed at the change process combines with the outer change readiness of the organisation to successfully lead and nurture the change process.

We have the knowledge, skills, and resources to guide you towards greater change readiness – in both the inner and outer dimensions. A good place to begin this journey is with a 1-day training program. Scroll down to read more about this.

We are an Australian company working online (or onsite) around the world. 

Change: The Learning Zone

By |2019-11-15T13:59:07+11:00November 15th, 2019|Categories: Change Fitness, Coaching, Programs|

In a previous article, I made the claim that humans are hard-wired for change. My argument there was that, since we have managed to survive and thrive in virtually every ecological niche on the planet (or at least in a diverse range of ecological niches), we are, as a species, very adaptable and not only adaptable but also able to adapt the environment to suit our purposes. Since this is arguably true of modern humans in general, it is logical to assume that deep neurological structures give rise to this capacity.

Hard Wiring

This neurological hard wiring may not have developed for the singular purpose of making us good at change. We understand from the Transtheoretical Model that change involves a great deal of analysis, visioning, planning, and problem-solving. These are all basic survival skills for a creature with a big brain but without many of the ‘mechanical advantages’ of other competitor species (we can’t fly like a bird, run like an gazelle, climb like a monkey, balance like a mountain goat, or swim like a dolphin). But we are very good at analysing our environment and planning our next moves.

We could explore this idea at greater depth and even debate whether big brains are an evolutionary advantage or a probable cause of ultimate demise. However, leaving such issues aside, we should understand that being hard wired for change is no guarantee of being able to use that neurological inheritance to much practical advantage. This is because being good at change requires more than hardware (neurones). We also need the right software (information).

Software

In general, humans all inherit the brain structures that enable us to analyse, vision, plan, and problem-solve. But we don’t all have access to the same information about how to do those things. In other words, there are differences in how well people have learnt to do those things.

And it’s even more than learning how to do things. It also involves developing the psychological strength to do those things and keep on doing those things when there is a psychological, emotional, or even physical pain associated with doing them.

So, being good at change requires us to have the neurological hardware (which, generally, we do) and the right kind of cognitive, emotional, and psychological software. And what cognitive, emotional, and psychological software is the right kind?

This is a complex question and we can’t go into details here. But we can make some broad statements.

Cognitive Needs

On a cognitive level (what we need to know), we need to understand how the change process works. We must understand what’s going on and what we should do to succeed at change. In other words, we need to understand the process we engage in. That might sound simple, but many people don’t really understand how the change process works and what is normal about it.

The second thing we need to understand on a cognitive level is what personal change fitness means. Change fitness refers to a set of psychological capacities that empower us to succeed at the change process. But in addition to developing these capacities, we need to understand what they are and why they are important.

The third thing we should understand on a cognitive level is the system in which we operate. This system (family, workplace, community, national, global) exerts pressure on us as we do on it. We need to have some understanding of this system so we can manage change within it.

Emotional Needs

On an emotional level we need emotional intelligence. We need to be able to regulate our emotions so can best utilise them to our advantage, and the advantage of others. Much has been said about emotional intelligence, so there is no need to say anything more here.

Psychological Needs

On a psychological level we need to understand ourselves and how we function in the world. We need to work on developing more of the change fitness capacities that give us the psychological strength to meet the demands of the change process. And we also need to understand the deep-rooted immunity to change forces that keep us trapped in current realities.

How Do We Do This?

The easiest and most direct way to tune up your change software is through change fitness coaching. Unfortunately, many of the things people learn about themselves and about change make them less likely to succeed at it. How our minds are programmed often leads us to be afraid of change, to resist it, and to run away from it. That is unfortunate because we have the hardware to be better than that. We just need to unlearn some unhelpful lessons and relearn some better ones.

And that’s where change fitness coaching fits in. It targets the most important cognitive, emotional, and psychological issues you need to focus on the reprogram your mind and help you get better at change. And the best place to start is with the Personal Change Fitness Program.

Perhaps, though, you’re not ready to engage in a coaching program. Maybe you would prefer to put your toes in the water first and test it out. You can do that too. You can start with a self-paced, online learning program that doesn’t involve coaching. A good place to start is Understanding the Change Process. This will give you some of the cognitive information you need. And if you decide you want coaching as well, you can always add it on later.

If you need any further information or help, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Written by Dr Steve Barlow

Contact Us

Got any questions?

"The Personal Change Fitness Program will not only make you change-fit, it will really change your life."

Debunking a Popular Myth: the Kubler-Ross Model of Change

By |2019-11-14T07:32:55+11:00November 13th, 2019|Categories: Change Fitness|

The Kubler-Ross Model (of Change)

Many people are familiar with the Kubler-Ross model. This model is often cited as a description of how change works – a model of change, if you will. It is commonly used in business circles to show how people in organisations react to change. However, before we embrace the model, we should understand where it came from. It came from the work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. She was a medical doctor who helped people who were dying.

What is a Model?

We should be clear about what a model is. It is a way of representing some reality, often an abstract reality. It represents patterns in the world. Kubler-Ross’ model represents patterns in how people react to mortality, or loss.

A change model would need to represent patterns in how people engage with change. It would seek to answer questions like: how do humans typically respond to and engage with change?

It is sometimes claimed that humans are hard-wired to resist change. The idea is that change involves risk, and humans are hard-wired to avoid risk and seek safety. I think there is truth in this claim, but, it doesn’t capture the full picture.

How successful a species is depends on how you measure success. But you could argue that humans are one of the most successful species on the planet. We have not only adapted to virtually every ecological niche on land, but we have also made the ecology adapt to us. We have even found ways to adapt to the most inhospitable of environments – space.

So, the way humans engage with change cannot be reduced to the simple claim that we are hard-wired to resist change. We also appear to be hard-wired to embrace change – changing ourselves and changing the world in which we live. Think of how much enthusiasm surrounds the idea of a mission to Mars or the concept of terraforming the red planet.

When we search for a model of change, we are seeking a way to represent the patterns in our brain structures and the typical human behaviours those structures produce. We are not really looking to model an abstract concept called ‘change’ – what we want is a model of how humans, at our best, engage with the process of change.

Back to Kubler-Ross

The Kubler-Ross model pre-supposes change is perceived as negative and threatening. This threat could come in the form of some unexpected and unwelcome news of a medical condition, the loss of a job or a significant other, negative financial news, or any other announcement that has significant implications for how you will move forward in life.

In other words, the model doesn’t really describe change: it describes a person’s emotional response to an unwanted and apparently negative change that has arisen on their horizon, and the process by which they come to terms with this new reality.

The wavy line on the graph represents a person’s emotional and cognitive response to news of a change they don’t want. Their initial state of relative well-being takes an immediate fall as they first hear the news, but soon rises as the person denies the reality or truth of the news. Surely this can’t be true? There must be a mistake here!

Once it become apparent that no mistake has been made, emotional well-being falls as shock and perhaps anger overwhelm the person. This may be followed by attempts at bargaining (with God? The universe?) as the person sinks deeper into depression.

Hopefully, with time, the person comes to terms with the new reality and begins to accept it. As emotional and cognitive well-being improves, and they make commitments about how they will proceed with life. Unfortunately, some people never accept the new reality and remain trapped in a state of depression.

This is a useful model that describes aspects of a common human experience – how we handle our fragility and mortality and the fact that bad things sometimes happen to good people. But there are several reasons why this model is not a good model of change.

First, change is not always negative. People win the lottery. They discover treasure. They meet someone and fall in love. They receive accolades and awards. There are many changes, expected or unexpected, that would not follow the pattern of the Kubler-Ross model. So, it cannot be a model we apply to all situations alike.

Second, not all change is unintended or unexpected. There are changes that just happen and there are changes we make happen. Intended changes usually don’t have the denial or shock elements that may be found in unintentional change.

Third, and most importantly, the Kubler-Ross model leaves too much out. It doesn’t provide a clear enough or detailed enough representation of how people typically respond to or engage with change. But what it does do well is it represents how people typically respond emotionally and behaviourally to a change they don’t want. That’s fine, but it’s only one part of a much bigger picture.

So, if a bigger picture is needed to describe typical human behaviour around change, where can we find such a model?

The Transtheoretical Model of Change

Change has always been part of human life so it may seem odd that it would be difficult to describe how that process happens. But it was difficult to describe. By the 1970’s there were over 250 different models of change in the academic literature. These models demonstrated a sense of confusion about the nature of the change process. This confusion led two American researchers, Prochaska and DiClemente, to put all existing models on the table and look for patterns. After years of work they produced a model that incorporates the best of existing models and most closely reflects the typical patterns in how humans engage with change.

They discovered 5 distinct phases, stages, or steps people engage in, and each step has its own purpose and its own set of behaviours. They also found that it’s normal for people to move forwards and backwards through these steps. Let’s look at these steps.

Step 1 – Not Even Thinking About Change

It may sound strange that the first step should be where people aren’t even thinking about change. But just because people aren’t consciously thinking about change doesn’t mean nothing’s happening. The person may have a vague feeling that something’s wrong.  The sub-conscious may be working and this might eventually emerge as a conscious need for change.

Furthermore, Step 1 doesn’t necessarily mean the person isn’t conscious of the need for change. They might be very aware of the need but may not think change is possible, or they might have tried to change before and failed.

And it is also very possible that people are in Step 1 because they hope things don’t change. We are all in Step 1 with things in our lives. We might love our home, love our jobs, love our car, or whatever. Sure, there may come a time when we think about moving, getting a new job, or replacing our car; but for now, we’re happy.

Step 2 – Thinking About Change

At some point we start thinking about changing things in our lives. We get tired or bored with how things are, and we want to change them. Or we become aware of things we want and good opportunities, and we start thinking about them. So, we make some investigations, talk to some people, perform a cost/benefit analysis. We think about how we feel about the change, whether it could work for us, and whether it’s worth the effort.

I think that Step 2 is where the Kubler-Ross model fits in. Sometimes we are thrust directly into Step 2. If we are thrust into a change that is perceived as threatening, the fight or flight mechanism will be activated. We may very well go into denial, become shocked or angry, and get depressed. We have a lot of processing to do. Sometimes, people get stuck in Step 2 and can’t find a way out.

But the way out of Step 2 is with a decision. It may be a commitment to do all we can to make change happen, or it may be a decision to go back to Step 1. If we decide to go ahead with change, we move into Step 3.

Step 3 – Deciding and Preparing

A firm decision for change marks the beginning of Step 3.

What do people do when they are in Step 3? They engage in preparation for change. There are many things to do and we need to work out how to approach them.

In every step of the change process there are risks and ways of getting stuck. One of the risks in Step 3 is that people get impatient. They skimp on preparation and want to get into the “real” change. But that behaviour only helps people fail.

A way of getting stuck in Step 3 is being a perfectionist. We do need to prepare thoroughly, but we don’t have to do it perfectly. We need to move on.

Step 4 – Making it Happen

This step is where we begin doing new things or doing old things in new ways. This is where we try things out, where we make mistakes, and where we learn the most. This is exciting, but there are many risks here. The chance of making mistakes is high, and we must deal with that. We may become frustrated, fearful, disappointed, or overjoyed. We may be tempted to give up if it gets hard, but if we continue and if we learn we eventually enter Step 5 of the process.

Step 5 – Keeping it Going

This is the final step of the change process. What are we doing here? We are persisting with change. The steep learning curve has flattened out and we are working towards the end, where we are used to the new behaviours. But there are still risks involved – getting sick of the struggle, memories of ‘the good old times’, and such like.

As mentioned earlier, it is normal to move forwards and backwards through this process. We make some progress, and then we regress. But, if we keep at it, eventually we win.

That’s what the Transtheoretical Model of Change describes – the pattern of how humans approach change. Or I should say; how they approach change when they do it right. So, what does it take to do it right?

Change Fitness

This process of change described by the Transtheoretical Model of Change may be typical of people, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. There are many challenges and many risks, and it’s not easy.

To be good at this process we need a special kind of fitness – change fitness. Change fitness is a psychological fitness for the change process and it’s in our minds. People who have lots of change fitness find the change process easier to handle than people who don’t have much fitness. That means change-fit people are more likely to succeed at change. They are more likely to be successful people because you can’t grow if you can’t change.

Conclusion

The Kubler-Ross model is a good model, but it is not a good change model. The Transtheoretical Model of Change is a much better description of what people do when they engage in change. To be good at the change process you need to understand how it works and you need change fitness.

If you would like to have more change fitness, or would like your leaders and employees to have more change fitness, we can offer you change fitness coaching. If you would like to become a change fitness coach, please reach out to me and express your interest.

Dr Steve Barlow

Other Products

By |2019-11-09T15:24:53+11:00November 9th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

OTHER PRODUCTS

CHANGE READINESS ASSESSMENTS

We provide comprehensive change readiness assessments for organisations planning or engaging in change projects. Get the information you need to succeed with the least possible disruption and the greatest change of success. Prices from $4995 AUD. Contact us to discuss your needs.

COACHING AND COACH TRAINING

We provide individual and group coaching in change fitness, change readiness, and change leadership. We also provide coach training in change fitness and change readiness to internal or external coaches wishing to develop their knowledge and skill in these areas. We also provide licensing opportunities for coaches we have trained. Contact us for more details.

CHANGE MANAGEMENT TEMPLATES

Most of the most common approaches to change management do not have change readiness built into them. If it happens at all, it is tacked on rather than integrated. We provide templates and an integrated change management model that takes the best of existing models and integrates change readiness from beginning to end. Contact us for more details.

Live Training

By |2019-11-09T15:20:05+11:00November 9th, 2019|Categories: Uncategorized|

LIVE TRAINING

RESISTANCE TO READINESS

This live 1-day training is delivered online or onsite. Discover why resistance to change occurs and how you can turn resistance into readiness. Build engagement and succeed at change. LEARN MORE >>

APPLYING CHANGE READINESS

This live 1-day training is delivered online or onsite. This training follows on from Resistance to Readiness and examines a practical change readiness model and tools to make it work.

Have You Gone Viral Yet?

By |2019-11-05T16:39:05+11:00November 5th, 2019|Categories: General|

I remember the first time I heard the concept of going viral. An associate told me that you create a piece of content, put it on a social media platform, and wait for it to go viral. It sounded intriguing at the time, and straightforward. Well, I’m still waiting.

When it comes to social media advice, there’s no shortage of ‘experts’ telling us how to make social media work in our business. There are literally millions of people trying to get small businesses off the ground and looking for advice on how to engage potential clients through social media channels.

I must admit that sometimes I get disheartened by what I see. For example, I get discouraged when I see a social media expert on YouTube telling me how he got a million eyeballs looking at his latest piece of content. I try to create high quality, original content and I feel good if a few hundred eyeballs see what I’m putting out.

But this article is not about me having a rant about who gets the most views. The message I want to get across is that the social media gurus may teach a simple process, but it’s not easy to do. It’s not easy to create a piece of content and see it go viral. And it’s not easy to build a passionate team of followers on social media.

The social media heroes we admire began where (almost) anyone begins – with an idea, tentative first steps, and a very small audience. At the start, they made their share of mistakes. They spent hours producing content that no-one seemed to watch. They wondered if anyone was out there who cared.

But they pushed through. They kept creating content and addressed real issues that their target audience struggle with. And, bit by bit, their audience found them.

So, what’s the main point here? We need a goal – yes. We need to be clear about our main messages – yes. We need to know our audience – yes. And we also need to persist in doing the little things that make it all come together and work.

Going viral sounds great, but a successful business (or a career) is built by doing all those not-so-glamorous things that need to be done each day. It may be writing great copy or a powerful script, toiling away on video editing, or a thousand other things that create the magic. And it has to come out of our ability to focus, to push through when it gets frustrating or boring, and to stay optimistic about what we’re doing.

Maybe you and I will never go viral. Or maybe that’s a nice bonus we might get occasionally. But, more importantly, we can choose to do all those little things that matter most. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and give it our best shot. What do you say?

Written by Dr Steve Barlow

You Need a Strategy

By |2019-11-02T17:00:54+11:00November 2nd, 2019|Categories: General|

Swiss adventurer, psychiatrist, and author, Bertrand Piccard, makes a very interesting observation about how most people approach life. He says, “To construct our life, we’re going to need to learn some strategies, but in reality, what we learn instead are visions of the world.”

He claims that most of us don’t figure out the strategies we need to achieve our dreams, but we do figure out how we see the world. That’s quite sad when you think about it. Most people start out with dreams about what they’ll do when they grow up, but at some point, they decide it’s never going to happen. Life is too unfair, misfortune steps in to upset their plans, they never find the time to make their dreams happen, or they decide their childhood goals were naïve and unrealistic.

Just Lucky?

We know that this is not the case for some people. They do manage to live the dream life, to overcome the odds and succeed. Maybe they were just lucky. Or maybe they learnt some strategies and constructed a view of the world in which they could achieve their dreams.

The Power

None of us has complete control over the circumstances or events of our lives. In fact, we have very little control over much of it. But we do have some control over our minds, our will, and how we choose to behave. We do have the power to think about strategies – the small, deliberate steps taken one day at a time that take us towards our goals. We do have the power to read a positive book rather than escaping from reality in the TV or the bottle. Those small, deliberate steps taken one day at a time is the way dreams are turned into reality.

That might not sound sexy, but it’s nonetheless true. Growing dreams is like growing fruit. You must put in a lot of hard work before you get your first harvest. You have to do a lot of things you don’t want to do; you have to stick with it and trust your strategy is a good one. And if you discover it isn’t, you’ve got to improve it.

Vision of the World

But having a good strategy isn’t enough. Piccard tells us to check out our vision of the world. People usually imagine that their perception of how the world works is a vision of reality – maybe even the only reality that could exist. For example, you walk into a shopping mall and see the rows of shops selling all kinds of goods. Shoppers walk in and out of stores or cluster around coffee vendors. Music is piped unobtrusively though hidden speakers. This is reality.

But even this hard, tangible, observable reality is only a set of ideas that have been turned into reality. Shopping malls don’t exist in nature. They didn’t exist for most of human history. Then the idea of the shopping mall entered the imagination of some people who decided to turn that idea into a physical reality. We experience that reality to be every bit as real as the full moon in the night sky.

Ideas into Reality

Just as the shopping mall was an idea that people turned into a reality, each of us turns ideas into reality all the time. Many of these are not physical, tangible realities, but we allow them to have control over us. What kind of realities am I talking about?

Go back to those dreams you had when you were young. Do you think they are unrealistic? Unachievable? Too hard? Or do you have a workable strategy you’re executing right now to turn those ideas into reality?

Many people give up on their dreams because they believe they are too ambitious and unrealistic. And because they believe that, they don’t have any strategy to make them happen. They have a vision of the world that doesn’t allow them to succeed, and they don’t have any strategy to achieve their goals. What they have is broken dreams.

What Do You Want?

Like I said, we don’t have complete control, and anything could happen that takes away our power to create the life we want to live. But most people don’t suffer a disaster that robs them of their power of choice. The question is this – do you want to hang on to those dreams and do something to make them become real? If so, you need a good strategy.

Maintaining an optimistic stance towards the future, having meaningful goals and dreams, and sticking with a well-designed strategy are all part of what it means to be a change-fit person. You have the power to become a very change-fit person. Do you believe that?

If you want those dreams, and you’re prepared to develop a strategy, change fitness coaching will help you on this journey. Talk to us today about how we can help you.

Written by Dr Steve Barlow

What We Do

By |2019-12-04T18:13:59+11:00November 1st, 2019|Categories: Change Fitness, Change Readiness, The Change Gym|

Growing Success

We help organisations and individuals become more successful at change. We do this by developing their capacity to succeed at the change process, helping them get ready for change, and by providing actionable change management processes.

If you can’t change, you get stuck. If you’re not agile and adaptable, you can’t be competitive. If you’re not change fit, you’re not ready for the opportunities of the future.

Personal Change Fitness

Change fitness is a psychological concept that refers to an individual’s capacity to meet all the demands of the change process. The more change fitness a person has, the more likely they are to succeed at change. A person with high change fitness has a greater capacity to cope with the demands of challenging and difficult change.  As a result, they are more likely to be successful when making change. People with low change fitness tend to be more resistant to change and are more likely to disengage and quit when change becomes hard. The good news is, change fitness can be developed at any age.

Organisational Change Readiness

Organisational change readiness refers to an organisation’s capacity to meet the demands of the change process. It is much more than simply readiness to begin a change project. Change readiness consists of 6 major elements, one of which is the change fitness of  all stakeholders. When these 6 elements work together in harmony, the optimal environment is created for successful change to occur. Organisational change readiness can be grown so the organisation becomes more agile over time. Change-ready organisations are at least twice as likely to achieve successful change outcomes compared to organisations with low change readiness.

Organisational Change Management

Although there are a number of popular change management approaches in common use, we believe they are lack some critical elements. They don’t map well to the change process, nor do they integrate change readiness into their processes.   

It is important to base your change management approach firmly on the change process because this is an expression of how humans approach change when they do it well. We are hard-wired to approach change in a way that delivers optimal results, but we don’t always do it that way. Why? Because, although we have the hardware to be successful, we often don’t have the right software. We want to teach you how to approach change with the right software (thinking and knowledge).

And it is also important to integrate change readiness into the change management approach. Change readiness isn’t something to tack onto change management. It’s about the readiness to succeed at the change process, and that’s a fundamentally important issue. We can show you how to do it right, so you have the best possible chance of success.

We provide change management templates that guide you step-by-step through the change project. These are practical tools you can use day to day.

Coach Training

Part of our business involves training external and internal coaches in how to build the change fitness and change readiness of individuals and teams. If this interests you, we have accreditation pathways to teach you what you need to know.

Assessments

We provide comprehensive change readiness assessments for organisations highlighting areas of strength and weakness in change capacity and helping organisations become more change-ready.

How We Help

The Change Gym specialises in helping people develop more change fitness and helping organisations develop more change readiness. We have also developed a change management model based on the change process and with change readiness principles and practices in-built. We provide training, advice, and tools to help people and organisations become more powerful and successful around change.

This website gives you information about what we do, but we invite you to contact us directly to discuss how we can help you achieve your change goals.