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Steve Jackson Faces Resistance to Change

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Steve Jackson Faces Resistance to Change


        Steve Jackson is the Software Implementation specialist within the Project Evaluation Group at Western Construction. He is in charge of rolling out a new software package called BSO, which will assist Western Construction in their daily work. Seemingly everybody to whom he has shown BSO liked it and is on board with the change; this includes his boss, Luke Williams, along with Williams’ boss, Abu Dija. However, the person in charge of International Bidding and Consulting, Mike Barnett, is completely against the new software, to the point of recommending that Jackson be fired for even trying to introduce it. Barnett is a very influential person, so Williams and Dija have told Jackson that he needs to get him on board lest he sabotage the project entirely.

Main challenges: 

These are what I think are Jackson’s main challenges:

  • Barnett is adamantly against deploying the new software to the company’s environment. This is a problem because he is respected in the organization and his influence could lead to others having doubts as well.
  • Jackson has been told by his two bosses that he needs to get Barnett on board, or the change will be a failure.
  • Jackson’s requests for help from both Williams and Dija have been answered only with reiteration that he needs to get Barnett on board; neither of them seem willing to talk to Barnett themselves.


I believe there are three major causes:

                First, something I found notable is that Barnett has not communicated why he is against the change. Any time he makes reference to it, he seems to just insist that it will “slow things down”, when all the research that has been done says otherwise. Of course, he would have no way of knowing that because he hasn’t even tried the new software. This suggests that he’s not against the software itself, but some principle behind it. Peter Bregman of the Harvard Business Review Blog Network writes that a lot of times, when people resist change, it’s simply because they feel as if they are having control taken away from them, and resistance is the only way they can feel more in control. “In their personal lives people usually make their own choices. But in organizations they feel coerced. And so they use the only power they have to regain control: resistance.” (Bregman 2009) What I’m getting at is that Barnett most likely feels bitter that everybody gets a say in the change except for him.

                Second, I feel as if whatever it is that is making Barnett so bitter has also formed an association of that bitterness with Steve Jackson. He feels that Jackson is the catalyst for this change that makes him feel so low and powerless, and as a result he holds feelings of dislike for him personally. It’s not very common in a professional environment for someone to suggest that a coworker be fired just because he disagrees with a project that person is working on. Jackson’s bosses clearly hold him in high regard as to his competence, so Barnett’s accusations to the contrary don’t seem legitimate. It looks as if Barnett just plain doesn’t like Jackson for some reason or another.

                The third cause, and probably the biggest, is that Luke Williams and Abu Dija are not performing their duties as leaders. In any kind of project, especially one of this scale, management support is critical to its success. Watts Humphrey of the Carnegie Mellon Software Engineering Institute writes “Without support from the very top, it is generally impossible to make significant changes.” (Humphrey 1999) Managers are the navigators of the organization. They guide the direction that everybody is pulling. If management doesn’t do its part to ensure that everybody goes in the same direction, the only way they’ll go is down. Williams and Dija have both not only been informed that Barnett is waging this war against Jackson, but Jackson has flat-out asked them both for help - neither offered any, but instead reiterated that he has “got to get Barnett on board.” (Inkpen & Pearson 2011) Without realizing it, they are sabotaging the project just as much as Barnett is by not showing their support for it.


Here is what needs to be done to address these causes:

  1. Obtain support from Dija and Williams
  2. Resolve the personal conflict between Barnett and Jackson
  3. Reach out to Barnett and get him involved

He can work on the above suggestions in the following manner:

        The third cause must be addressed first in order to resolve causes one and two. Thus, it is the first recommendation. Jackson needs to first communicate to Dija and Williams that their support is critical to this project’s success. They already support Jackson’s decision to adopt the software; they just need to get more actively involved. He needs to get them in the same room today and make them understand that the success of the project is out of his hands. Within the next few hours, Dija and Williams need to both acknowledge that Jackson needs help. The other two recommendations absolutely hinge on the outcome of this, so its measurability will be addressed at the end.

        This leads to number two, which is to resolve the conflict between Jackson and Barnett. This needs to be done by Abu Dija, because he is both Jackson and Barnett’s boss. Barnett has been unwilling to open up to Jackson, so Dija must get involved. In his article in the HR Daily Advisor about how to deal with employees who don’t get along, Dan Oswald wrote, “You can’t make them like one another, but you can demand that they find a way to work together productively. And if they either actively or passively refuse? Then either one or both need to go.” (Oswald 2011) Assuming Dija does confirm his support for the project’s success, he must be willing to do what is necessary. He’s going to need to sit down with Barnett within the next day and inform him that the company is making this change whether he likes it or not, and that he can either put aside his differences with Jackson and do his job or, if he decides to continue to attempt to sabotage the company’s goals, he can find employment elsewhere.



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