How do you gauge whether or not your organization is ready for a major change? How should you prepare for it? David Gleicher claimed to have the secret sauce.

Gleicher’s Formula attempts to predict the success of organizational change using this equation:

(D x V x F) > R → ∆

  • D = Dissatisfaction with status quo
  • V = Vision of what is possible
  • F = First steps toward the vision
  • R = Resistance to the change
  • = Change (delta)

Gleicher's Formula For Change

Gleicher basically said that the driving forces have to be greater than the restraining forces. If they aren’t, the change is destined to fail.

So what does effective change management it look like?

  • “We need to do _____ because if we don’t, _____ will (or will not) happen.”
  • “Changing _____ will result in _____, which is critical because _____.”
  • “The plan is to do _____, which means that first, we’ll need to _____ and then _____” (and so on).

And here are the best ways to ensure failure:

  • Forcing change without allowing for any explanation, discussion, or objection
  • Making a change without articulating goals or expectations
  • Being vague or failing to articulate a clear, actionable plan

Shepherding organizational change

A shepherd caring for his flock is perhaps the most ancient metaphor for leadership.

Ok, so maybe it’s not helpful to think of your team members as sheep — dumb, directionless, and defenseless — but the change itself needs a champion. Someone to explain it, defend it, and guide it.

You should expect some anxiety and resistance when you shake things up. Shepherding change is about anticipating how your plan or strategy will impact others, and reaching out to them.

It may not be your responsibility to convince them; simply help them understand decisions. Acknowledge and validate their concerns or objections. Wherever possible, seek their buy-in or personal commitment to success.

I learned the hard way that the right idea at the wrong time is the wrong idea. You can’t force a major change in the face of mounting resistance, and expect it to succeed. In that instance, you may need to change your approach instead.