Forced Change Doesn’t Work As Well As Consensus

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forced change

Forced Change Doesn’t Work As Well As Consensus

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Change surrounds us. It may be hard to find an argument with that idea. However, does forced change ever really work? Can you force a change?

Certainly, there are external forces of change. We have technology forcing change, government regulations may force change, and even shifting economic conditions are likely to force change.

Managing Change

How do you manage forced change? Can it be managed? Does forced change happen internally?

There are always both external and internal forces putting pressure on organizations to change. The outcome of pressure applied is reactionary change.

We all realize that reaction may not be as good being proactive.

When we present ideas, concepts, and new directions we are hoping for change. Does the debate at the water cooler invoke change? What about the private discussion after the staff meeting? Does that bring about change?

Fighting for Change

It is easy to find disagreement. It is easy to pick a fight.

A culture of, “We fight about it.” may bring about some change, but it may not be the change you had in mind.

While external forces cause change for organizations, internal change or buy-in may require a completely different strategy.

Decision by consensus is different from persuasion, it is different from majority vote. Forced ideas seldom lead to consensus. Debates, arguments, or fights seldom create buy-in.

Forced Change

Some people will always go with the flow. They’ll follow the crowd. Fence sitters can go either way but often watch for the path of the majority. People with strong views can transition to extreme views as their influence grows.

Picking a fight and creating a divide is likely not what you have in mind. Forced change is often only the residue from the attempt, the bitterness that teams harbor and relive over and over in their minds.

If you want positive change and an intact team you’re going to have to use skillful navigation to create the buy-in. Forced change doesn’t work.


Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at or by calling +1 646.546.5553.

Dennis Gilbert on Google+

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