Article | Harvard Business Review | March–April 1979

Choosing Strategies for Change

by Leonard A. Schlesinger and John P. Kotter


"From the frying pan into the fire," "let sleeping dogs lie," and "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" are all well-known sayings born of the fear of change. When people are threatened with change in organizations, similar maxims about certain people and departments are trotted out to prevent an alteration in the status quo. Fear of change is understandable, but because the environment changes rapidly, and it has been doing so increasingly, organizations cannot afford not to change. One major task of a manager, then, is to implement change, and that entails overcoming resistance to it. In this article, the authors describe four basic reasons people resist change. They also describe various methods for dealing with the resistance and provide a guide to what kinds of approaches will work when the different types of resistance occur.

Keywords: Organizational Change and Adaptation; Strategy; Change Management;


Schlesinger, Leonard A., and John P. Kotter. "Choosing Strategies for Change." Harvard Business Review 57, no. 2 (March–April 1979).