Mastering Change - Handouts

Scoring Change Readiness

Taken from:   Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers, Robert Kriegel

and David Brandt, Wagner Brothers, Inc., 1996.


Add up your scores on questions 6, 13, 20, 27 and 34.  Optimal range is between 22 and 26.

           Resourceful people are effective at making the most of any situation and utilizing whatever resources are available to develop plans and contingencies.  They see more than one way to achieve a goal, and they’re able to look in less obvious places to find help.  They have a real talent for creating new ways to solve old problems. 

            Sitting pool side while on vacation I noticed two small boys playing with some palm fronds and string.  It was clear these kids hadn’t been to a taster recently.  Still, one had created an elaborate bridge across a tiny lagoon and a number of small “boats.”  The other had constructed nothing at all, content to use the fronds to splash water on his friend.  The difference in the way they played said something about their levels of resourcefulness - the ability to make something out of nothing.

            To resourceful people an apple might be useful as a paperweight; a pencil could be a backscratcher.  Such elastic ways of considering things allow them to come up with a variety of solutions to a dilemma.

            When people low in resourcefulness encounter obstacles, they get stuck, dig in their heels, and go back to feeding sacred cows.  Very high scorers (over 26) might overlook obvious solutions and create more work than is necessary.

            Optimal scorers know that every problem has a solution.  If anyone can find it, they will.  They’re very handy when it comes to discovering innovative ways to deal with change.  Since there are so many unanticipated difficulties when you challenge the status quo, they add value every step of the way.


Add up your scores on questions 5, 12, 19, 26, and 33.  Subtract this total from 35 for your score.  Optimal range is between 22 and 26.

             Everyone has a pretty good sense of what this trait measures.  Is the glass half empty or half full?  One business owner took the definition a step further.  He defined a pessimist as someone who saw the glass as not only half empty, but leaking.  The optimist, he noted, was delighted just to have a glass!

            Our scale measures whether people have a positive view of the future.  Do they see rain clouds or sunny skies?  Optimism is highly correlated with change-readiness, since the pessimist observes only problems and obstacles while the optimist recognizes opportunities and possibilities.

            Some people say optimism can’t be taught; it must be caught.  Like a social disease, you get it by handing around the right people.  While there’s no denying that optimism is highly contagious, we believe there’s more to it than that You can train yourself to look for positives as well as negatives.  But does what you see determine your attitude or your attitude determine what you see?  It works both ways.  Optimism is a reflection of your frame of reference, and your frame of reference is influenced by your disposition.  The good news is that you can modify either.

            Optimists tend to be more enthusiastic and positive about change.  Their positive outlook is founded on an abiding faith in the future and the belief that things usually work out for the best.  Very high optimism scorers (over 26) may lack critical thinking skills.   


Add up your scores on questions 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29.  Subtract this total from 35 for your score.

             “Life is either a daily adventure or it is nothing,” said Helen Keller, whose spirit raised her above crippling disability and shaped her existence into an amazing journey.

            Two ingredients capture this adventurous spirit: the inclination to take risks and the desire to pursue the unknown, to walk the path less taken.

            Adventurous people love a challenge.  They tend to be restless and shun the comfort zone.  Routine bores them.  They hate repetition and feel compelled to break out.  They’re always looking for new ways to do things.  Adventurous people are great innovators and creators, pathfinders and scouts who go out ahead of the wagon train looking for opportunities and excitement. 

            Since change always involves both risk and the unknown, they usually perform well during organizational shake-ups.  They are the proactors, the employees who initiate and create change.  But very high scores (over 26) may indicate a tendency towards recklessness.


Add up your scores on questions 4, 11, 18, 25 and 32.  Optimal range is between 22 and 26.

             Drive combines physical energy and mental desire to create passion.  It’s the fuel that maximizes all the other traits.  If you have drive, nothing appears impossible.  If you don’t, change is, well...exhausting.

            Drive is the individual’s level of personal dynamism.  It shows up in a person’s level of intensity and determination.

            Think of standing at the bottom of a mountain you’ve got to climb.  There are at least forty switchbacks and some treacherous footing to negotiate.  Plus the altitude and the weight of that rucksack on your back.  What’s your response?  Low scorers feel worn out just looking up at that path.  High drivers feel undaunted, perhaps even energized.  It has less to do with their ability in the high elements than their energy and tenacity.  And it’s a long climb without those two.

            “One factor that constantly emerges in psychological tests of greatness is level of drive,” reports sports psychologist Jim Loehr, who has worked with some of the top athletes in the world.

            “That’s the single greatest predictor of all.  How passionately is the person going after a particular goal?  So many of the people who rise to greatness in sports don’t feel they’re genetically gifted...You look at basketball great Larry Bird, and you don’t believe he can be that great when he stands next to all these super Ferraris.  Obviously he has something beyond genetic superiority.”

            It’s the same in business.  To make some new procedure work, to overcome the myriad of problems that any plan for change unwittingly produces, you’ve got to have passion and determination.  Very high scores (over 26), however, may mean you’re bullheaded, obsessed, and heading for burnout.


Add up your scores on questions 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31.  Subtract this total from 35 for your score.  Optimal range is between 22 and 26.

             Adaptability includes two elements: flexibility and resilience.  Flexibility involves ease of shifting expectations.  High scorers on this trait are not wedded to specific outcomes.  If the situation changes, their expectations shift right along with it.  They adjust to the new circumstances with quickness and ease, so they rarely feel disappointed or let down.

            Flexible people have goals and dreams like everybody else, but they’re not overly invested in them.  When something doesn’t work out, they’ll say “plan A doesn’t work, let’s try plan B.”  They can go in many different directions and generally have a lot of options working.  Resilient people aren’t thrown by failure or mistakes.  They don’t dwell on them and get depressed but bounce back quickly and move on.

            Resilience is the capacity to rebound from adversity quickly with a minimum of trauma.  One sales manager lost half her sales force in one afternoon; twenty-two people got the ax.  She was back in the office the next morning developing a new plan to meet quota.  It wasn’t callousness, just the willingness to accept the new situation and make the best of it.

            Like the manager, resilient people are nimble and fast on their feet.  They’re not weighed down by the status quo or stuck living in the past.  Rigid people - low scorers - don’t accommodate to a shifting sea.  They’re caught in their nostalgia for the “good ole days,” often opposing change if not by action then by attitude.  Such people are dead weight when a company is in transition.  They’re always looking backward instead of into the future.

            Scoring too high (over 26) in this trait indicates a lack of commitment or stick-to-it-ness.  You may need an infusion of backbone.


Add up your scores on questions 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30.  Optimal range is between 22 and 26.

             If optimism is the view that a situation will work out, confidence is the belief in your own ability to handle it.  There is situational confidence - “I know I can swim this channel, learn this program, write this report” - and self-confidence - “I can handle whatever comes down the pike.”  This latter type is the kind of confidence that change-readiness scale measures.

            High scorers are generally individuals with a strong sense of self-esteem.  But more specifically, they believe they can make any situation work for them.  Psychologists call this particular belief an “inner locus of control.”

            While others see themselves as battered about by circumstances they can’t control - luck, fate, recession, bad timing, a tyrannical boss - confident individuals see the same situations as influenceable.  If they can’t change things, they’ll make the best of them.  One way or another they know they’ll prevail, so they don’t feel threatened by change.

            Another reason why change isn’t forbidding to people high in confidence: They’re unafraid of failing.  Their belief in self is not based on a particular performance.  Their ego isn’t on the line each time they go to bat.  When they fail they don’t see themselves as a “failure,” but as a person who has something more to learn.  In fact, to the confident individual, failing is the road to mastery - that’s precisely how one gets better.

            There is a direct correlation between levels of confidence and receptivity to change.  If people feel confident in their ability to handle a new task, they’ll be more receptive to it and more positive about it.  But it’s possible to have too much confidence.  Scores above 26 may indicate a cocky, know it all attitude and a lack of receptivity to feedback.


Tolerance for Ambiguity

Add up your scores on questions 7, 14, 21, 28 and 35.  Subtract this total from 35 for your score.  Optimal range is between 22 and 26.

             In a perfect world, there would be no uncertainty.   Everything would be as clear as the full moon on a starless night.  But we don’t live in that world.  So much of planning, marketing, and research is based on educated guesses and hunches of where the market will be three, five and ten years out.

            The one certainty surrounding change is that it spawns uncertainty.  No matter how carefully you plan it, there is always an element of indefiniteness or ambiguity.  You don’t know what the competition is going to do or how the marketplace will respond.  Sometimes solutions don’t appear until well into the process.

            When things are vague, in flux, or unclear, people who are uncomfortable with ambiguity get impatient and irritable.  They want answers fast and they want them now.  The results is that decisions are forced and made too quickly.

            We’ve found tolerance for ambiguity in short supply, especially among hard-driving bottom liners who tend to see things in black and white.  They want results and get upset when things are not clearly spelled out.

            Without a healthy tolerance for ambiguity, change is not only uncomfortable, it’s downright scary.  But too much tolerance can also get you in trouble.  You may have difficulty finishing tasks and making decisions if you scored over 26 in this category.      

Developing Change Readiness


Taken from:   Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers, Robert Kriegel and

David Brandt, WagnerBrothers, Inc., 1996





Think of 10 uncommon uses for an ordinary object.  What would you do with a piece of garlic other than eat it?  Sometimes just getting encouragement and permission to go beyond conventional thinking is all that is needed.


Optimism is about seeing things with rose colored glasses.  Think of something good about these typical negatives:

          Loosing your Job - the opportunity to try something new.

          Getting a New Boss - start fresh and create the perfect working relationship.

          Getting Transferred to Greenland - learn another culture and see the country.


Practice Risk Taking - the more you risk, the more you realize that the catastrophic results you expect rarely happen.  If you can’t take the plunge and schedule the biking tour of France: state an unpopular opinion, act contrary to all expectations, do something you have been scared to try, confront someone you have been afraid to face, introduce yourself to a perfect stranger.


Think of yourself as an energy system.  You need regular fueling, tuning and conserving to keep running smoothly.  Energy is the foundation on which drive is built.  Your level of drive is primarily affected by psychological factors such as desire, aspiration and fear.  Drive depends on how much passion you feel for what you are doing and how well you maintain your energy system.  Passion is built on dreams.  Some people gave up dreams a long time ago - that’s kid stuff.  Others are afraid to confront the great distance between their hopes and their everyday lives.  Still others are so busy rushing to meet short term goals they never set their sights on the horizon.  Turn your imagination on for a minute and think about the following possibilities:

          If education and training were not an issue, I would _____________. 

          If I had all the time in the world, I would _________________. 

          I’ve always wanted to ________________. 

          If I didn’t have to pay these bills, I’d _________________.


Rigid thinking is incompatible with Change Readiness.  Habit is the enemy of adaptability.  The more inclined you are to set rigid patterns of behavior, the more difficult it will be to remain adaptable.  Get in the habit of breaking habits: drive a different way to work, serve dinner for breakfast, wear your watch on the other wrist, sleep on the other side of the bed, eat with your other hand, change the way you write your name.  Stretch your mental muscles into thinking “outside the box”.

What get’s wetter the more it dries?  A towel.          

What’s a reward for waiting?  A tip.

What can you put inside a barrel to make it lighter?  A hole.

In what place does Thursday precede Wednesday?   The dictionary.

What eats but never swallows?  Rust.


Even if people feel change is good they will resist if they feel that they are not up to the task - you have to help them believe in themselves.  Can-do Training - break tasks into one “can do” at a time until you have a string of accomplishments.  Frame statements - even problems - positively.  Think of how you would like to hear it.


If you scored low here - you feel anxious and uncomfortable when things are uncertain or unpredictable.  These days that is all the time.  It’s the lack of control that is hard to tolerate.  In every situation, there is more under your control than you might think.  Think of a situation at work that requires action.  On a piece of paper, write down everything about that situation that is in your control.  Now on another piece of paper, write down all the factors that aren’t.  Can any of them be switched?  Now focus only on the ones you can control - design an action plan and place it to the right of each item.  What happens when you concentrate on the things you can do something about?  How does your mood change?  What does this tell you about empowerment and helplessness.  In every situation, there is more control than you first realize.