This is a powerful exercise that demonstrates why change should not be imposed. The likelihood of resistance is much higher when people are not consulted on change. This is why they should be involved in the decision-making process. It is a novel exercise since it can be shocking just as you tell them what they need to do which in turn makes delegates remember the exercise well. Hopefully, when it comes to imposing change in the future, they remember the exercise and refrain from doing it.
Before going through this exercise make sure you can use it with your specific delegate. You will need to handle this with care specially when it comes to the sensitive part as you will see. Only conduct this exercise when you have gained enough rapport and established your authority as a trainer so that in case there is some resistance, you can handle it with ease.
Attempt to rearrange the wallet or purse of another delegate based on what you think works best.
What You Need
- Tables and space where people can go around the table.
- Ask the delegates to reach out for their wallets and purses and place them in front of them on the table.
- Explain that they won’t lose anything.
- Now ask everyone to stand up and move one seat to the left, in a clockwise order.
- Now each person is facing someone else’s wallet or purse.
- Ask the delegates that their task is to rearrange the wallet or purse as they see fit. Remove unwanted things and rearrange things based on what they think is best.
- At this point expect hesitation, discomfort and possible resistance.
- If you see anyone jumping on the idea (which is unlikely), promptly say the following to prevent them from taking any action: “Before you proceed, I just want to know how you feel about this activity?” Now expect to hear some concerns.
- Remember, at no point should you let them explore each other’s wallets and purses. The point of the exercise is to shock them by asking it.
- Your aim now is to help and guide delegates to arrive at the following in the context of change based on what you just asked the to do:
- That people dislike someone else imposing rules on them without any consultation.
- That in the absence of interest and commitment, people simply wait to see what others do. The moment some see hesitation by others (which could be because others also want to think what their peers do), they become even more resistive. This leads to a vicious cycle of resistance.
- That people may simply resist and reorganise some parts back to what it was before. They see no reason why someone else’s rearrangement should be any better than their own.
- That some people may not commit to any of the changes as a matter of principle to resist it completely.
- That since the change is imposed directly, it can create resentment, even if it is obviously good.
- That we are all conditioned on social acceptability of certain behaviours and that rummaging through wallets and purses is considered invading personal space and is strongly resisted.
- Encourage the delegates to suggest any more ideas on change that can be derived from this exercise.
- Follow with a concluding discussion on the effectiveness of this exercise.
Explaining the Exercise: 2 minutes
Activity: 10 minutes
Group Feedback: 5 minutes
How effective was this exercise? Did you really think you were expected to carry out the task? Were you holding back to see if others would commit first? How memorable is this exercise?