Crisco_Cookbook_1912 courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

I am pretty sure you can starve to death reading cookbooks.  I suspect this is why organizations and individuals frequently seek outside help when trying to change.  It takes more than just knowing what to do to bring about change.  If knowledge was all it took, we’d all be non-smokers, physically fit, and great at interpersonal relationships.

One of the most helpful models for explaining change was created several decades ago by Dick Beckhart and David Gleicher.  It is often referred to as the Change Equation.  It is a simple formula that says a lot.

In short, the equation says three factors must be present for meaningful change to take place. These factors are:

D = Dissatisfaction with the status quo.  Continuing “as is” is not an acceptable option.

V = Vision of what is possible.  There is at least a vague sense of a better future.

F = First practical steps that can be taken towards the vision.  These steps are concrete and acceptable.

The formula involves multiplication.  If any of the factors is missing, then the others are canceled out and you’re not going to be able to overcome resistance.

This simple model has several practical applications.  When planning for change, you need to make sure all three factors are present before your start.  When trouble-shooting during a change, you can use the formula to figure out why you may be having problems.  And finally, when evaluating the outcome of a change, it provides a tool to assess the end result.

One of the best things about this model is its simplicity.  You may still want to get some outside help, but this equation can get you started.

What factors are holding your change effort back?