The promise of zero resistance to change

In page 65 of the draft for your new book - The Workflow - you are showing how claiming the low hanging fruits of wait time vs touch time can radically improve throughput - for free. I’ve tried this, and it does give you extra capacity, it does give you a lot of gains, but it does not come for free in terms of “zero resistance to change”.

The biggest challenge to change comes on the mentality of “having people not busy enough”. I think this has a lot to do with the Psychological Flow, as well as with the alignment of everyone around Herbie.

How does one tackle situations whereby resistance to such a mentality, especially if it is not concerned with the constraint?

Yes it has to do with mindsets, and expected norms of behaviour. So one has to work a lot with people to make them fully internalize the whole metaphor of Herbie. One has to work with the accountants to make them appreciate Throughput Accounting, and that the company will actually lose money if it pursues resource efficiencies rather than flow efficiencies. All this requires, as always, that we first know where Herbie is. That is why metrics are so important. With the right metrics, the whole organization will know when they can afford to (or actually should) relax; and when to step in and work; and especially how to help Herbie if possible. The lesson of the boy scout metaphor is all there is.

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Resistance to reducing WIP Limits have both rational reasons and emotional reasons … You need to find the antidote through dialogue !

  1. When I am stuck, I need to do something else : Both Rational and Emotional
  2. The team is afraid to say no : Emotional
  3. The team looks less productive : Emotional
  4. Lack of management support : Rational
  5. There will be a critical request that won’t be met : Rational
  6. We will produce less deliverables : Rational
  7. Requests will not be delivered on time : Emotional
  8. There will be idle workers : Both Rational/Emotional
  9. Everything must start now if we want to finish on time : Emotional
  10. Reduced WIP Limits prevents from addressing emergencies : Rational
  11. I depend on other teams. If I don’t start these tasks now, they won’t deliver on time : Emotional
  12. Optimal WIP is hard to calculate : Rational
  13. If I am idle I will end up doing tasks that are not mine : Emotional
  14. Fear of being measured and judged : Emotional
  15. I will no longer be the STAR of finished tickets : Emotional


So… you know where Herby is and what’s bogging Herby down.
There are always people who don’t give a hoot what’s best for the system, if that would affect them.
This isn’t about rational argumentation on business value, it’s about people’s individual sense of entitlement and privilege.

You propose to make a change that comes at zero cost and with visible benefit - and the response is NIMBY. At this point, you already have manifest resistance, as well as negative energy.
Then what? The resistance is there.

Hi Michael!

First: welcome to the community!

Now let me address your concern…

Of course you need to involved all folks in the company and tell them the Story of Herbie and its significance.


The magic of finding Herbie… is that Herbie cannot hide.

The magic of finding Herbie… is that all others don’t need to change (until maybe it is their turn to be the next Herbie), or maybe have to work less than what they do now (which they typically welcome…)

The magic of finding Herbie… is that all others can “help” Herbie… (the peer pressure will be quite high).

The magic of finding Herbie… is that the top dog will look right there… and not in a gazillion different places… (Receiving “help” from the CEO is often very motivating).

The magic of finding Herbie… is that the rational argumentation (as you call it), becomes very concrete and incontestable (remember we use metrics) for the Herbies themselves.

The magic of finding Herbie… and it becomes concrete and tangible… is when you will have the moment of “enlightened self-interest.” IOW Herbie will understand all this not only rationally, but also emotionally. The deeper insight is that what is going on not only “makes sense” but that there is “something in it for me.”

For example: if Herbie is overworked with overtime… explaining that by doing the 5FS… at the end Herbie should no longer be Herbie… develop Excess Capacity… avoid overtime… and have “free” time to do other things. Do you think people will willingly resist avoiding overtime? No!.. that’s what the self-interest, what-is-in-it-for-me aspect becomes a prevailing intrinsic motivation factor.

Does it make sense?

PS The “Zero Cost” change is not relating to applying the 5FS to Herbie but to reducing Wait Times - which was covered in the earlier chapters… Hope you read them! :slight_smile:

Thank you for your reply, Steve @tendon.

Let me move this from the abstract realm into the realm of the specifics.

There is a management proverb, “You become important by making yourself indispensable”.
Some managers actively work to make themselves a bottleneck in the critical path of vital business processes on purpose, and they’ve done this for years.
Simply by being absent or not answering a mail, they can put the entire company to a screeching halt.
When they are not in favour of something, they will slow down the process or outright prevent it, as often and for as long as they want. Everybody knows that they are the bottleneck, and nobody can stop them. Not even the CEO.

To give a very specific example, there was a middle manager who made himself(!) responsible for checking the timesheets of external contractors before approving the invoice. He could take 6-8 weeks for doing this if he didn’t like you, or he could do it in 2 minutes if he liked you. And he could bounce back your invoice for a single typo if he wanted to. His mantra? “Everything over my desk”.
He made himself the bottleneck not only in this process, but in others as well, which made him the single most important person in the company.

I think that Herbie in this case isn’t hidden, and the problem is symptomatic of out-of-control middle management.
I do remember one case which caused the CTO of a large corporation to resign, because all of his change proposals just drowned in the quagmire of such middle managers.
And there’s another case of a startup CTO who said that he left his former company because of exactly this kind of behaviour.

My entire point is: These people resist because they have purposely created a system where they benefit from strangleholding the organization. It allows them to be important, get attention and negotiate good salaries with little work. They have worked hard to put themselves on the critical path, where they can and will introduce wait or even break points on a whim.
As such, it’s hardly feasible that there could be “zero resistance” when dealing with such people.

Interesting cases.

Besides you cannot qualify these people as Herbie, unless you have data supporting the claim.

Now be pragmatic: have you ever tried truly applying constraints management in those pathological cases? If not, try!

What happens is a classical instance of the sunshine kills the germs.

The extreme transparency that is brought about with this approach will expose such counter productive behaviors. What typically happens is that those folks, once they become the true constraint of the system (with incontestable metrics; which if they contest they will appear stupid; and nobody wants to appear stupid…), will be uncovered.

They will have no place where to hide. Then they either change (because of “enlightened self-interest”); or - more likely - they will leave the company on their own behalf. In either case, the organization will gain.

Now note very, very well: If they are not the constraint, then you don’t have to worry about their “bad” behavior. Simple! If they are not the constraint, their behavior doesn’t change a nano-particle of the result. But if they are truly damaging the system, with the data supporting the fact that they are the constraint, then - sooner or later - the lens of the constraint will put them under focus. And then the heat will be too much to bear.

Try it!

Besides… AGAIN! “Zero resistance” is not said in relation to constraints management. Please don’t quote it in this context! OK?

The zero resistance statement relates to reducing wait times. See the first chapters of the book for that!

If you got the impression that “Zero resistance” was in relation to constraints management, may I ask you to please point out in the draft book where it comes from… because then there is something that went wrong in the draft; and I would be happy to correct accordingly.

Probably the confusion is my fault, but the way this argument developed is actually interesting because after all most processes involve people, and who knows if Herbie can actually be a member of mankind rather than just conceptual!

I tend to agree with @tendon here, and suggest that a data-based approach can actually be the most effective in the face of the unreasonable.

These two trails of thought will actually converge if the undesirable behaviour is having an effect on the FLOW of work, and sometimes (as we know) it does. The good news is that if it does effect the flow, then it can be flagged with data! If it doesn’t, we’ll start talking about soft approaches that are completely outside the scope of this book.

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Hi Matthew

Yes, the pathological case is outside the scope of this book, but it is not outside the scope of TameFlow. In particular, it would be handled with the scope of Psychological Flow. A good approach would be to start using the Core Protocols as explained in the “Hyper” book.