By Joanne Hutchinson

Last week I was speaking at a Women’s Leadership Summit and I had the opportunity to enjoy the speakers who went before me.  In one of the presentations, the Formula for Change was briefly touched on and I remembered this from many years earlier.

It’s one of those models that is easy to use and still very applicable and practical to today’s rapidly changing world. It can be used for any goal you want to set or any change you want to make.

The essence of this formula was born in the 1960’s by David Gleicher and was designed to assess the likelihood of change in an organisation.  Over time, others modified it until it was ultimately simplified by Karen Dannemiller in 1992.

The formula for change is:

D x V x FS > R

D = Dissatisfaction with our current reality

V = Vision of future possibilities

FS = First Steps

R = Resistance to change

The first 3 factors are multiplied so for example your level of Dissatisfaction is multiplied by your Vision which is multiplied by your First Steps which must be greater than your Resistance to change. If one or more of them are low or zero, then the chance of success is low.

Decide on a rating for the components so for example, it could be out of 10.  Therefore, on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how dissatisfied are you with your current reality? Then on a scale of 1-10, rate your vision, and then finally rate your first steps taken towards your vision.  When you multiply the 3 components, you will get a total score.

The simplicity of this formula for change is that if things are not going to plan, it’s easy to look at each of these 3 variables and see which one(s) you can amp up to increase your likelihood of success.  Let’s look at them in more detail:


We are creatures of habit and we all know how good it feels to be in our comfort zone.  Unfortunately, life is not static.  It is always changing and evolving.  As things begin to change, we start to feel a growing sense of dissatisfaction with the way things are, with our current reality until ultimately, we feel a sense of urgency about embracing change or maybe a crisis occurs.

I love this story by Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop about the ‘Burning Platform”.

“A man was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, flames surrounded him. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform’s edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.

As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing on a “burning platform,” and he needed to make a choice.

He decided to jump. It was unexpected. In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters. But these were not ordinary times – his platform was on fire. The man survived the fall and the waters. After he was rescued, he noted that a “burning platform” caused a radical change in his behaviour.”

A burning platform provides the ‘why’ we need to change but not the direction.  We need a vision.

A Compelling Vision

The next step is to create a compelling vision of the future which is rich in possibility and potential.  It is inspiring, motivating, vivid, relevant, clear and calls us to action.

A vision provides the direction we want to go in and pulls us forward.  On a bigger scale, it unites people to a common understanding and helps people get excited about what the future holds.

Of course, knowing why we need to change and knowing the direction we want to go in is still not enough.  We need to take some action.

A dream without action is simply a wish.  So, the next step to amplify our ability to succeed by taking some concrete first steps.

Concrete First Steps

First steps are all about the crucial actions we need to take to get started.  It is the ‘how’ we’re going to make the vision a reality.  It can be a detailed roadmap or action plan, just as it could be the very first steps we need to take to get going and create some momentum.

With each step we take, we can be fluid, be in the moment and allow the next steps to unfold naturally.  Sometimes we get lost in the detail or feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the actions we need to take.  Being in the moment and deciding what concrete step to take right now that will moves us in the direction of our vision is all we need to do.  It is the movement toward where we want to go that is the key.

Martin Luther King said, “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Take any goal that you have and apply this formula and see what it tells you.  Is your level of dissatisfaction with your current reality big enough to inspire change? Is your vision compelling enough?  Do you need to take more concrete action steps?

I hope that you found this formula for change useful.

Talk soon,

Jo Hutchinson MBA

Engaging Leaders@Work | Building One Team

“I help people like you lead confidently, live courageously and communicate from the heart. Be the leader you wish you had.”


Events Coming Up

October 2017 – 1 Day Workshop ‘Creating your Leadership Brand’ – Auckland CBD

January 2018 – The Inner Circle – A 10 Month Programme for Women as Leaders who aspire to Lead and Live Intentionally.

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” ― Anatole France


© 2017 Joanne Hutchinson.  This article is free to share with author acknowledgement.