The effect of revolution

When we are successful in creating a new sourcing strategy, we will, almost by definition, bring about change in the company, and often dramatic change.

We need to understand how people react to change so we can plan for their reaction; and reacting negatively is a core part of much of human behaviour.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss physician, spent time looking at how people react to bad news (in this case, of a medical nature). She noted that reactions followed a similar pattern, shown below. After the initial shock, people will deny the change then become resentful, angry and depressed. After a period, people will experiment with the new future, integrate it into their lives and then take some growth and learning from the situation.

The depth of the collapse of well-being, and the time to recover varies for both individuals and situations. Equally, some individuals will get stuck at one stage another, sometimes cycling around the dip at the bottom.

Our role, when introducing change, is to help others to adopt the change. If the first time an individual hears of a dramatic new sourcing strategy is at the point of implementation, then they will be at the point of denial, once they have understood the proposed approach. Better, then, is to have communicated your intent over time, so that the formal change happens when individuals are, at worst, depressed about your proposal or (better) integrating the idea into their lives.

The consequences of this are always underestimated; people who react angrily all defiantly (not necessarily loudly; this may be passive aggression, not overt) will spread unrest and resistance to your ideas.

Effort spent communicating thoroughly before the release of a sourcing strategy repays itself many times, as implementation efforts reduces.


  1. Allow more time for communication while developing change, especially if it looks unpopular or difficult. 
  2. Reduce resistance by helping people to get used to the idea. 
  3. Work on the stakeholder map to make sure you know who to communicate to. 
  4. Check for individuals process through Kubler Ross-winner
  5. Spend more time communicating than you think you need to; it will pay off in the end


Mark Hubbard is founder and co-CEO of Positive Purchasing Ltd.Image


About Mark Hubbard

I set up a specialist purchasing consultancy and a business focussing on seeking innovation. I work all over the world with clients, helping purchasing teams develop new ways of delivering value for their businesses. I love thinking about how purchasing works, and how it can be better, and I'd love to share some of those thoughts with you
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