The Real Reason People Won’t Change

The Real Reason People Won’t Change

I have learned that the authors have high academic qualifications. Both authors have PhD qualifications from world-class universities. Robert Kegan has a PhD degree from Harvard University, while Lisa Laskow Lahey has PhD degree from the same institution. The author’s educational qualifications are very relevant to what they wrote. Both authors have majored in psychology. Their education is relevant to what they wrote because they studied psychology. As such, they are able to explain human behavior from a scientific point of view. It is worth noting that Kegan and Lahey wrote on the topic of resistance to change in organizations. Many employees are unable to adapt to changes occurring within the organization or within the entire industry. The duo asserts that resistance to change is not an indication of opposition, but more of an underlying psychological issue. The authors’ education enables them to examine human behavior as it applies to organizational change.

The authors have vast experience in human behavior. Robert Kegan (2001) has gained vast experience in the field of human behavior from research work, teaching, writing, and through consultation. His consultancy work has mainly focused on the topics of adult development, learning, and professional development. His work has mainly focused on the issue of psychological transformation among individuals during adulthood. This experience has culminated in vast knowledge, leading to the development of literature on reasons why people resist change. Lahey has been involved mainly in the educational sector, working in K-12 colleges and moving to universities. She has also worked with corporations as well as nonprofit organizations, gaining immense knowledge on human behavior in the process.

Contrary to popular belief, resistance to change among employees is not a show of opposition. Rather, resistance to change emanates from an unconscious internal force that pushes one towards a “hidden competing commitment”. Competing commitment involves the routine activities or commitments that the employee was accustomed. When change occurs, an employee may observe that they apply energy, although unknowingly against new commitments made. Kegan and Lahey (2001) assert that organizational leaders should be able to identify competing commitments among employees and help them to overcome the tendency to resist change. The duo asserts that managers can identify competing commitments among employees by asking a series of questions. However, there must be some level of trust for the employees to feel free to talk about the issues affecting them. An example of a question is one that requires the employee to explain the changes that he/she would like to see implemented at work. This would enable the person asking to identify the discontent in the employee.

Ethics/values/faith plays a key role in change management. Ethical issues may arise during the change management process. During the change process, the organizational may hire change agents to effect the necessary change. Change agents utilize behavioral science methodologies to effect change in the organization. Change agents may gather data on a particular organizational issue. If the change agents are not ethical, they may manipulate data for selfish interests. For instance, an internal change agent may manipulate data to portray a certain department as failing in its mandate. Alternatively, the management may apply the change process with hidden motives that are different from those outlined in the change process. For instance, the management may introduce change to improve performance but the hidden motive may be to deny employees bonuses on sales. Another way that ethics play a role concerns implementation of the change process. The organization should not force employees to comply with the new changes. The best way is to introduce culture change within the organization.

I can apply what I learned to change initiatives by ensuring that my change initiatives include a way of assessing resistance to change among employees. After implementing the change initiative, there is need to ensure that employees’ competing commitments are established and addressed accordingly (Kegan & Lahey, 2001). By asking a series of questions, it may be possible to identify the various competing commitments affecting the employees and address them.


Kegan, R. & Lahey, L. (2001). The real reason people won’t change. Retrieved from

Kegan, R. (n.d). Profile. Harvard. Retrieved from kegan

Lahey, L. (n.d). Profile. Harvard. Retrieved from

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