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The Spark Blog

An occasional series of thoughts and reflections on the role of narrative in organizational change, branding and knowledge work

Beckhard’s change equation

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D = Dissatisfaction with the status quo
V = Vision of what is possible
F = First, concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision
R = Resistance likely to be encountered.

According to Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher, D, V and F are the three factors that must be present for meaningful organizational change to take place.

They relate closely to the narrative structure proposed by Steve Denning in his book The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling: Mastering the Art and Discipline of Business Narrative – a structure we’ve used many times in our work:

  1. Introduction/scene setting – start by plunging the audience into the middle of the story and giving them reason to listen on.
  2. Downsides of the status quo – the human brain is hard-wired to look out for danger. That is why it’s important early on to draw attention to the downsides of doing nothing.
  3. Vision for the future – having got people’s attention, give them an alternative scenario based on the new strategy, something truly aspirational that puts their imagination to work.
  4. Evidence for success – end by grounding the future picture with some evidence that it is in fact achievable.

We read about Beckhard’s equation on Dan McCarthy’s Leadership website.

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