Change Management



* Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey have written two books in support of this work; Immunity to Change(Harvard Business School Press, 2009) and How The Way We Talk Can Change The Way We Work (Jossey-Bass 2001).


You know it's impossible to drive with one foot on the gas and the other on the brake. But that's what it feels like when you try to change behaviors. You come up against your inability to make change -- let alone sustain -- the change. This can happen despite our good intentions.

It's not about being lazy or lacking will power. It’s because we have deep-seated -- often protective -- dynamics at work. These are called “competing commitments” by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey, the creators of the Immunity to Change process*. Kegan and Lahey use the metaphor of the immune system to explain what makes it's so hard to change behaviors that keep us from reaching our goals. When our bodies detect a threat -- a virus, bacterial or other intruder -- our immune system kicks in to ward off the threat. This self-protective physiological response is automatic and we're often unaware of it. A similar self-protective, often unconscious, psychological process takes place when confronted by change.

Like trying to drive with your foot on the break, as much as you want to move forward and make a change, competing forces hold you back. Overcoming "immunity to change" is the objective of this work.
I offer the Immunity to Change workshop for business teams in small group formats as well as for individuals in personalized coaching sessions. Immunity to Change™ shows you how you get in your own way, and, most importantly how to get out of your own way. We work with the Guide to Immunity to Change™ Exercise workbook from the Kegan and Lahey training, following a process that is centered on creating and utilizing your own personal "change map" to
  1. Outline your personal development goals
  2. Uncover the hidden "Competing Commitments" that are holding you back
  3. Hone in on the buried anxieties and "Big Assumptions" that underlie them
  4. Formulate specific actions to test and debunk your Big Assumptions
  5. Identify concrete steps you can take to reach your goal

From Oprah Magazine:
Not being able to change doesn't mean we're lazy, stubborn, or weak. A pair of Harvard educators argue that our best-laid plans often fall through for smart, self-protective (and ingeniously hidden) reasons.

From Harvard Business Review:
Resistance to change does not reflect opposition, nor is it merely a result of inertia. Instead, even as they hold a sincere commitment to change, many people are unwittingly applying productive energy toward a hidden competing commitment. The resulting dynamic equilibrium stalls the effort in what looks like resistance but is in fact a kind of personal immunity to change.