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The Utility of Resistance

Since man began to sail the open seas, sailors have used a very simple device to determine how to take maximum advantage of the wind.  Pieces of ribbon or yarn attached to the main mast and to the sides of the jib tell a sailor when the wind is up and how to trim the sails to use the wind effectively to make the best headway.  These pieces of ribbon or yarn (three red strips in the photo below) are called a telltale and telltales are one of a sailor’s best friends.

Sailing image

When it comes to making headway in organization change, leaders, managers, and change practitioners also have a telltale.  It’s called resistance.  However, resistance is rarely regarded as anyone’s best friend.  To the contrary, resistance is usually regarded as something to be “overcome,” “managed,” “mitigated,” “confronted,” or otherwise vanquished.

What if we reframed resistance and approached it differently?

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