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My relationship with Change and the Change Formula

Last night at dinner with a friend, we were chatting about navigating change, and I shared that in a way that has been a theme of my life. I immigrated to the US when I was 7 years old and entered the end of 1st grade in a foreign country with a language I didn't know. We moved again for middle school, and then I skipped 8th grade jumping straight from 7th grade to high school (that was an awkward one..) In my professional life, I have lived through working at Lehman Brothers during the financial crisis and several mergers at RBS and, of course, leaving Wall Street to start my Executive coaching company 8+ years ago. I feel like having kids was a huge change for me, but let's be honest, I am not alone in that, so we can skip that part. Anyway, the story is that Helen has done "change" in some form or another and not always by choice since the age of 7.

All of us have been navigating tremendous change in the past two years, and more change is coming soon. You might be wondering if your office will open with the delta variant a concern, will team meetings or client dinners resume to pre-covid style?


Many of my clients are senior leaders at high-growth companies, and they are experiencing having to change their leadership style as their teams grow, their operations become more complex, and their clients more diverse.


I have been exploring and experimenting with what helps people change. I have been devouring Katy Milkman's new book How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be, and the nerd in me found a formula for change that I am eager to share with you.


The formula for change is a model that tests the likelihood that someone or an organization will change. The formula was created by David Gleicher [1] and refined by Kathie Dannemiller in the 1980s.[2]


Here it is...


C = (V * D) + F.S. > R


Oh jeez, Helen, that is so helpful...


I know it's just a bunch of letters. Keep reading...


C = CHANGE

V = VISION

D = DISSATISFACTION WITH THE STATUS QUO

F.S = FIRST STEPS

R = RESISTANCE


so C = (V * D) + F.S. > R means...


Change occurs when Vision multiplied by Dissatisfaction with your status quo plus First Steps is greater than resistance.


So if you want to truly understand how willing and likely you/your team/organization are to change, you have to ask yourself this:

  • Do you have a clear vision for what change will offer to you? (V)

  • Are you experiencing dissatisfaction, frustration, pain – how much? (D)

  • Do you know what you need to do to drive the change? (F.S)

  • Do you understand what is contributing to your resistance to change? Can you move that boulder out of your way? (R)

Many people think all they need to do to change is to understand the HOW (i.e., the first steps), but the truth is that we might not be dissatisfied enough, or we might lack vision, or our resistance is too great.


The past year I have been training my mind to change. As a self-proclaimed control freak, I have been truly working on "letting go." Change takes time, and for me, becoming less of a control freak will probably take my whole life, but I have a clear vision for the value of this change, so I am going for it!


Let me know what change you are navigating?