From change resistance to engagement: Learning lab workshop

By Mark Vincent


UWE Learning Lab

Applied Change in collaboration with the Psychological Sciences Research Group at University of West of England (UWE)

Have you noticed how the more you push people the more they tend to resist?

Have you also noticed just how creative we can all be in avoiding doing things sometimes, even when we know it’s good for us?

This is change resistance; It’s a key factor behind the stubbornly low overall success rates for change initiatives, despite all the books, tools and methods available.

Whether it’s delivering on your strategy or a change initiative, change resistance slows the pace, adds cost, increases workplace stress and leads to lacklustre outcomes. In an era of increasingly rapid change, failing to adapt quickly enough can spell disaster for any organisation.

And yet there are many examples of changes that do happen at incredible pace and are energising for all involved. The key difference is that everyone involved is fully engaged.

So how do we move from resistance to engagement?


This session looks at change from a different perspective; one that the standard approaches often miss. Taking an evidence based practice approach we will work together to improve our collective understanding of the psychological factors that enhance change engagement, both at an individual and team level.

We are trying a new interactive session we are calling a “learning lab”.  We will share our experiences and develop practical ways to increase the pace and engagement with change, unleashing the natural energy that exists in all of us when the conditions are right.

Part 1 – The first part of the session will summarise our current knowledge from the scientific literature and practice based experience on the drivers of successful change.

Part 2 – We’ll then consider some questions we can ask ourselves in any change situation in order to focus attention on the factors that will most fundamentally affect the pace and ease with which change will be delivered.

Part 3 – During the final part of the session, through small group activities we’ll apply the learning to real change situations that you have either faced in the past or are facing right now.


The aims of this session will be to establish a shared understanding of:

  • Why traditional approaches to change struggle so much, and why they are becoming less useful in an era of increasingly rapid change
  • The psychological factors involved in engagement and disengagement with change
  • Some practical tips to unlock the human potential in teams and turn resistance into engagement

Related content

• Applied Change

Bill Gates: How to Avoid a Climate Disaster

Covid-19 has taken our attention for the past 18 months, rightly so, and now we need to turn our attention back to our next existential challenge, our climate and reducing emissions. This excellent book gives us cause for optimism that many of the solutions we need are within our reach.

Read more

• Applied Change

Celeste Headlee – 10 ways to have a better conversation

The art of conversation is so critical to everything we do, it’s a wonder that we’ve yet to truly master it.

Read more

• Applied Change

Professor Steve Peters – The Chimp Paradox

We love this book because it goes a long way towards explaining why our actions and behaviours often don’t live up to our good intentions. The recognition that different parts of our brain are operating simultaneously at any given moment, often in competition with each other, helps us to see our own emotions and behaviours and those of others around us in a whole new light. In our view this is essential reading for anyone who is looking to influence human behaviour or understand their own. For those who want a quick intro, the link will take you to his TED talk. 

Read more
Join the conversation