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Dean Lindsay, on making change a positive

3 min read


Miri McDonald, an expert on organizational development and strategic communications, recently spoke with Dean Lindsay, author of “The Progress Challenge.” Follow Dean on Twitter.

Your book  is a fresh look at change management. I particularly like your motto, “Change is inevitable, Progress is a choice.” Talk more about this concept.

It’s natural to view change as negative. Nobody wants their change managed. No one plans to change. We plan to progress. We want to make things better. Companies usually focus on telling people what needs to be done, but not why or how it will be progress. Involve your team in progress not just process.

How did you arrive at the “6 Ps of Progress?”

I was studying the works of many of the world’s top minds on motivation and commitment. I became very interested in Viktor Frankl’s work, the founder of Logotherapy. I came to the conclusion that people make decisions on emotions and back it up with logic. In other words, everything we do is because we believe, consciously or subconsciously, that the projected consequences of those actions will be us feeling the right mix of six core feelings:

  • Peace of mind
  • Pleasure
  • Profit
  • Prestige
  • Pain Avoidance
  • Power

How can organizations make use of the “The Progress Challenge,” especially if there has been a negative history with change?

  • Get to know your team member’s parameters of progress. Really connect with people where they are, in emotion and in feeling. Have an open dialogue that leads to true consensus and commitment. Some people are amazing progress leaders, and there are others who haven’t taken team members’ parameters of progress into account. Then they wonder why initiatives don’t get implemented.
  • Maximize your personal potential. Meaning, look sharp both mentally and physically. Make yourself attractive to other people so they see you as a positive force.
  • Cherish and cultivate constructive communication.
  • Help others choose to feel positive about their work and lives.
  • Be human and humane.
  • Share expertise.

Talk more about what you call the “Parameters of Progress.”

This is really looking at each person’s perspective on the 6Ps. What would bring each person the most pleasure, peace of mind, profit, prestige, power and pain avoidance? What are their goals? What do they want out of life? If leaders take time to learn about how their team members would answer these questions, they could show how the change is progress for them.

Let’s close with what it means to “Be Progress”?

Team members need to feel that you are progress long before something needs to be done differently. Sometimes people confuse being progress with making progress. People want to make progress. But you must be progress in the mind’s of those you wish to propel into positive action. Initiatives must be positioned as progress and not change. Not just by saying it but by showing how the progress will lead to the right right mixture of their 6Ps. This will lead to more confidence in the company and when something new comes up, people wont be as resistant to it.

Help people find progress in the change. You can’t control what happens to you but you can control your reaction to it. People need help finding the progress or how they can create it for themselves.