Yes, there actually is a formula for change! Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher originally created the winning formula for change. Kathie Dannemiller simplified and refined it and brought it into the mainstream. It is often still referred to as Gleicher’s Formula and it provides a simple – yet exceptionally powerful – model to assess the relative strengths affecting the likely success (or failure) of organisational (and individual) change.

The formula is as follows and it outlines three factors that must be present for meaningful change to take place. And the products of these factors must be greater than any resistance. Keep reading and I’ll explain…

What this formula says is that if the product of DISSATISFACTION (D) with the present situation, a VISION (V) of what is possible and FIRST STEPS (F) toward reaching the vision are greater than the RESISTANCE TO CHANGE (R), change will occur. If any variable (D, V or F) is zero, resistance will not be overcome.

What Key Steps can we take from this formula and practically implement?

  1. Build collective understanding and agreement. The critical mass of the system (whether it is an organisation, team, couple or family) needs to share a collective understanding and agreement on each of these three elements for system wide change to occur. As change is instituted, there will always be people at various stage of the adoption curve but don’t let dissuade you from aiming for collective understanding – especially if you have a core team of influencers in the system.
  2. Create a compelling vision of the future state. The implementation of change stumbles if people are not clear on what changes are needed and how it will benefit them or the team, the organisation, family and so on in future. This needs to be communicated frequently as part of the change management process. We often talk about this as the “toward a reward” driver of human motivation and, sometimes, it can be hard to achieve. For example, a team might not want a new system or process, no matter how great it sounds, or a child might not want to move cities or countries when a parent is relocated. If the future doesn’t seem bright and people are not happy to go towards, it will be even more important to…
  3. Stack the dissatisfaction of the current state. Often change stumbles because people do not feel ownership or responsibility (i.e. it’s somebody else’s fault or someone else’s job). Allowing people to take ownership for solving the problems in their space, will help to increase their dissatisfaction. For example, if they are accountable for costs, they would be more likely to accept a new system that costs less. This is about the “away from pain” driver of human motivation and must not be missed as a powerful way to overcome resistance to change.
  4. Don’t let change take too long. If change happens over an extended period, people can become lost in the usual crises of running the day-to-day business. The momentum gets lost. This means it is really important to…
  5. Ensure the first steps of the change process are made concrete and feel doable. Without a clear path to implementation, change drags and might not even happen at all. This does not mean that we need to see the entire staircase, but it does mean that we need to give people the first few steps. These steps will create momentum that could produce a domino effect. And, if they don’t, at least the first few steps will have happened and then you can present and assist people in taking the next steps.

Can you imagine applying this formula to assist you with professional and/or personal changes? Maybe you’ve already been using it in some ways and this just brings it into consciousness so you can now makes changes easier by design.

One thing is for sure, we are all continually changing, so I’d love to hear your thoughts and wish you well as you implement these Key Steps to…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’ 


NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.

Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to have achieved the title of
Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.

Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’