Activity: Immunity to Change
Adapted from:

For times when brainstorming falls flat and teachers fail to thrive filled with just too much inertia and attachment to the status quo. To help folks increase awareness of and explore attachments that tether them to what they are doing now. Connected Coaches assume teachers have good reasons for these feelings and until those reasons are understood, accepted and appreciated, no transformation and no improvement is likely. Kegan and Lahey (2009) suggest that if teachers are willing to talk honestly around the four questions on the following immunity map, they can move from being unconsciously immune to change to be released from hidden attachments.

Kegan, R. & Lahey, L. L. (2009). Immunity to change: How to overcome it and unlock the potential in yourself and your organization, Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

The immunity to change map can be explored and completed as a team or by team members individually. The transparency a of collaborative experience may increase the potential for testing assumptions.

There is an adapted Immunity Map that can be copied and then used by members here:

Recommendations for completing the map are noted below.

Column 1 - Write your commitment
Column 2 - List everything you are doing/not doing that works against your commitment
Column 3 - Write down what you think your competing commitment(s) might be
Column 4 - Write the underlying assumption you are making about why the competing commitment is important

Here is an adaptation from Immunity to Change showing how to fill in this chart. (Wagner, Kegan, Lahey, Lemons, Garnier, Helsing, and Howell, 2006) __excerpted from here__.

Step 1:
The first step of the exercise is to identify a commitment that is “important and insufficiently accomplished.”

What is the most important thing that you need to get better at, or should change in order to make progress towards your goal of ___ (fill in the blank with a goal). Now, frame this as a commitment and write it in Column 1.

Criteria for the commitment:
• It should feel genuine.
• It should be clear how this commitment relates directly to the stated goal.
• It should not yet be fully realized, meaning that there is plenty of room for improvement and future growth.
• It should implicate you as an individual.
• It should feel important to you.
• It should be stated as a positive, not as a negative (not as, "I want stop being mean" - better to say, "I want to be kind and compassionate").

Step 2:
In Step 2, recognize your counterproductive behaviors.

What are you doing, or not doing, that is keeping your commitment from being more fully realized? Write a brainstormed list in Column 2.

• Keep the list to specific behaviors.
• Refrain from listing reasons about why you engage in these behaviors.
• List only those behaviors that undermine or work against your commitment.
• List any behavior in which you engage that prevents your goal from being realized.

You may feel inclined to want to attack this list of behaviors, but without deeper exploration, it will be very difficult to change them. As you continue the exercise you’ll begin to uncover what is keeping these behaviors in place.

Step 3:
In step three, you identify your competing commitment(s).

Start by imagining what it would be like to do the exact opposite of the behaviors you listed in Column 2. What do you think would happen? What are your fears? Write these fears in Column 3.

The fears that surface ought to point you towards a competing commitment. This may not be a commitment that you are aware of. In contrast to the first-column commitment, which is the sort of commitment you “have,” the competing commitment is the sort of commitment that “has you.”

Draw a line underneath the list of fears and write what you think may be your competing commitment. You might have more than one.

• This commitment should make you feel uncomfortable—in other words, it isn’t something you would want put on a plaque.
• It should be clear how this commitment is self-protecting.
• It should show how your countering behaviors make perfect sense.

Once you’re finished, you can draw two arrows that connect the first and third columns. These arrows represent the countervailing commitments that cancel each other out and keep you stuck and “immune to change.”

Step 4:
In Step 4, identifying the big assumption that is underlying your competing commitment.

Your big assumption is a kind of rule or prediction about what will happen if you act in certain ways. To identify it, you take your competing commitment, reverse it, and replace the words “I am committed to…” with “I assume that if...” Next add a “then…” and complete the sentence.

The big assumption should…
• Show why the 3rd Column Commitment feels absolutely necessary.
• End calamitously.
• Display a constricted world.
• Overall, it should make your stomachs tighten…that’s a good sign!

Step 5:
The final step of the exercise is to determine how best to move forward—that is, how to take steps towards change in your life.

In order to move forward, you might:
• Observe the big assumption in action.
• Stay alert to challenge the big assumption.
• Design a test of your big assumption.
• Run the test and discuss the data openly.

Following this activity, folks may want to explore:
How do our fears hold up in the real world? What happens if we push the envelope?