Overcoming Resistance to Change—The DVF Formula: An Approach to Winning in Today’s Marketplace

Change is tough. Individuals and organizations struggle to do things differently, or even better, than they have done in the past. And, whether creating a new program, crafting a new company strategic plan, improving efficiencies, or creating change within our communities, clients have a difficult time in overcoming the resistance that they may face when trying to implement change.

D x V x F > R = Conditions Required for Change

Some Examples of Resistance

The above “DVF Model “ helps S & G endeavors facilitate our clients through processes that create long-term and actionable change, by helping them overcome the resistance to that change. But, before we explain how it works and how the model has developed over the years, do any of the three situations below sound familiar?


  • A small team of executives has met for over 9 months to create a new employee wellness program for their company—they believe this would help all employees, as increasing employee health leads to lower insurance costs. They finally came to agreement on a great vision and crafted a set of fifteen actions to implement the new program, which will offer benefits to all employees. When they rolled out their plan to the rest of the organization, no one cared about the new program or took interest in it. The issue: There was no common desire of employees to participate, because employees were not engaged to help design the program.SGE Project Work
  • A small town brought 100 people together last year for a summit to discuss how to increase the health of their residents. The conversations connected the diverse participants around a common framework of the health-building activities already happening in the community. Participants then created action plans around a number of initiatives to increase health. When the leadership debriefed the summit and began to implement action, they realized that the actions were “all over the place.” More importantly, they couldn’t identify what actions should take priority. The issue: The participants never built a common vision for what success looked like and therein, action plans were not unified or aligned.
  • Last year, 3000 attendees met at a summit to increase awareness and to better prepare advocates to fight for improved access and accommodation for all people who are blind. By the summit’s end, they educated advocates on successful techniques and strategies. In addition, people were fired up with a great vision of possibility: that all blind people would have the access and opportunities needed to reduce unemployment by half (from 76% to 38%). Evaluations reported that people were excited and eager to achieve this vision, but the organization noticed that little action was taken by participants; a year later the unemployment numbers had not changed. The issue: no action plan or first steps were created and prioritized by the summit participants, so participants were not sure what they needed to do to achieve the vision.

The Formula

The DVF Model outlines the conditions that must be present in order for change to occur.  This is typically applied to organizations, departments, communities, and work groups, but you can apply the concept to individual change as well.

D x V x F > R = Conditions for Change

D = Dissatisfaction – A shared desire for change or dissatisfaction with current state.

V = Vision – A positive and noble vision of where you yearn to be.

F = First Steps – A clear set of steps that enable movement toward the vision


R = Resistance – People, power, and processes that maintain the status quo.

The formula only works if all three elements (DVF) are included in the change process. If an element isn’t included, then the product of DVF will not be greater than resistance.

The formula has been around for years and has been enhanced by some leading practitioners and scholars in our field of Organization Development (OD). The original formula, rooted in the 1960’s, was directed by Raymond M. Hainer, who convened a team of scientists to “unlock the mystery of organizational behavior.” The DVF model, with which many S & G clients are familiar, was developed in the 1980’s at the National Training Labs (NTL) by large scale change pioneer, Kathie Dannemiller. Her reasoning for developing the model: to have a common sense model that she could use to address front line employees of large organizations, Like Ford or her other clients.

More about DVF

SGE Project WorkThis is one tool in our toolbox that we consistently use when working with our clients looking to create change, no matter how large or small.  We ensure that each organization builds a common database of their shared dissatisfaction or desire to move forward.  Then we work with the organization to create the shared vision that they aspire toward and ensure the organization creates prioritized action steps and activities that both help roll out the desired change and help measure progress.

Be sure to call us for further discussion about how your organization can use this model to create the change you seek. And, if you are curious about the history and evolution of the DVF Model, be sure to check out the below article, featured in the Organization Development Practitioner. It does a great job of telling the story of how one of our most effective tools has evolved over the years.

Cady, Steven H.; Jacobs, Robert; Koller, Ron; Spalding, John “The Change Formula: Myth, Legend, or Lore?” OD Practitioner; Summer 2014, Vol. 46 Issue 3, p32.

A special thanks to Dr. Ron Koller, who has made the full article available for download on his site: ResearchGate.  

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