Agenda’s for Change

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This is an update on a blog I wrote in 2009. I’ve been puzzling over what the Interaction Styles model would predict about change.  Then it hit me…the movement tendency that is favored by each Interaction Style would give us some insight.

In the past, I have talked about how if you push a change too fast and too hard, you will get resistance that may result in only a temporary change. My consulting bias is always to work with the system to move it to where it wants/needs to go. Now, I’m wondering if this is universal wisdom or a Behind-the-Scenes Interaction Style bias on my part!  So, let’s explore that a little bit.

When developing the Interaction Styles lens on personality type, I and my colleagues identified four movement tendencies after reading about the three tendencies identified by Karen Horney and cited in the Social Styles literature. These three—push against, move away from, move towards—seemed to clearly go with our experiences of three of the four Interaction Styles, so we looked for the ‘missing’ movement and came up with ‘move with’ as opposite of push against.

Four Change Agendas

Against: The In-Charge tendency is to push against in order to get the accomplishments and achievable results. If there is an obstacle, push against it to get it out of the way. My experience is that when a change is needed, those with an In-Charge style are most likely to forge ahead and make the change happen and be impatient with the other tendencies.

With: The Behind-the-Scenes tendency is to first move with whatever is going on in order to get the best result possible by integrating all the relevant information. This is the opposite of the In-Charge movement. For people of this style, fast paced change is likely to be stressful if people are forging ahead, unless they can see how it will work with the system rather than break it.

Towards: Those with a Get-Things-Going style seek to involve others and want to be involved so they can get an embraced result, thus they are likely to want to move towards while engaging people. They will especially be interested in moving toward something they see as energizing, engaging and positive. This can lead to compromises along the way and wanting to talk things through before full implementation.

Away From: Those with a Chart-the-Course style tend to want to move away in order to distance themselves so they can chart of course of action before they act. They want to be able to anticipate what will happen, at least long enough to know how to get there. Engaging in a lot of talk or starting in right away will deprive them of their think time to chart a course.

I suspect that we are inclined to see some of these tendencies as resisting change and others as embracing it. None of these agendas suggest embracing or resisting change, but instead point us to what each style will need in order to deal with the change. When we recognize where the movement tendency is coming from, we can make space for it and be better able to manage the change that needs to happen.

Of course some situations seem to need different approaches to change, so the challenge is not only making space for the drives of other styles, but assessing the situation to see what is needed.

What’s your agenda for change? Is it what is needed? How can you make space for what is needed and/or what others need?