How to Help Immovable Objects Move

      3 Comments on How to Help Immovable Objects Move

Benjamin Franklin understood the 1/3 change rule. 

‘All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.’ – Benjamin Franklin 

Why do we pay so much attention to the ‘Immovables’? They don’t listen. They blame others. They slander the opposition. They repeat their mantra endlessly: ‘This is about the taxpayer, freedom to bear arms, stop the oil pipelines, etc., etc. They wouldn’t know how to let go even if we put a metaphorical gun to their head.

The Movable middle third sit on the fence glancing either way, but wishing to move forward.

Those that move and are already living the future they want often go unnoticed. They are risking nothing because they are used to making progress and mistakes and learning from the process. It is to them that we must pay attention.

Yet the media, managers, and the fearful focus on the Immovables. They make good headlines that feed them the attention they crave.

How to work on change with the three groups:

1. Those ‘On the move’:

Ask: What works when you move forward? Let the next group interact with them.

2. The ‘Movables’:

Ask: What do you like about the ‘on-the-movers’? Which part of their work can you see yourself adapting? What small first steps would you see yourself taking right away? How would you see that being useful to yourself?

3. The ‘Immovables:

Ask: ‘If your nose hairs were on fire would your nose hurt?’ In other words, ignore their ideas and opinions. Try a good old-fashioned passive-aggressive, ‘Sure, we’ll do that.’ But, don’t.

Work with the first two to let them see how they are moving forward towards solution, albeit at a different rate.

This will irritate or anger the ‘Immovables.’ Remember that’s their problem. You are not going to change their behaviour. Our problem with the ‘Immovables’ is our impatience with them … that they won’t listen to us.

But, you can change your behaviour towards them. Be patient and let them live with their frustration until gradually they become less relevant.

The better systems of #1 and #2 people will help the larger group move forward.

More on ignoring the immovables


3 thoughts on “How to Help Immovable Objects Move

  1. michael cardus

    great stuff and focusing on the movers will also pull the ‘movables’ as I like to call the the Undecided – into the movers.

    People go where you focus time, resources and energy.

    And I like the nose hair on fire question 🙂

    1. Alan Kay

      Thanks Mike, I took the ‘nose hair’ idea for my early solution focus training. When someone can’t listen to you…say something that makes no sense at all and they may listen.

      Wish you could be here at SOL2013 – fabulous conference

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