Are you ‘immune to change’?

How many of us make new years resolutions with the best of intentions but don’t follow through on them? How many of us are intent on improving our listening skills, delegating more or changing any other behaviours that would enhance our abilities to do a better job,… but somehow we never really get there?

In the video below Robert Kegan shares an overview of our in-built ‘immunity to change’ which as he describes results in us having ‘one foot on the brake and one foot on the gas’. This model of change that Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey developed allows us gain insights into the in-built assumptions that we make that can block us from making the changes we desire despite our best intentions. These are examples of personal adaptive challenges rather than technical challenges in the language of ‘adaptive leadership’.


I have now used this model with many clients as well as personally, and I have to say that the richness of the exploration is amazing in almost all cases. We discover internal resistance or ‘big assumptions’ that we never anticipated. Through discovering these ‘big assumptions’ we can devise experiments that allow us to test their validity and alter the way we see the world with the aim of releasing us from this ‘immunity to change’.

The fascinating thing for me is that this can be used to understand a group or teams ‘immunity to change’ as well as individuals. It provides a new opportunity to help teams spot assumptions which are preventing them from fulfilling their collective potential.

Next week, my coaching class from 2008 are meeting going to explore this approach in depth and share experiences of using it. My homework for this session prompted me to write this – thanks John and Barbara! If you would like to learn more about this approach don’t hesitate to get in touch or check out Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey’s web-site.



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