Pain/Pain Theory

Pain/Pain Theory

The Key to Driving Change Management & Behavior Modification


This theory sits right at the intersection of the Strategic and Operating Model and the Behavioral Model. Over the years I have found this theory to be the fastest way for my clients and their organizations to implement the necessary changes they need to ensure they accomplish their goals.


The theory is as follows: When the pain of not achieving the success you want is greater than the pain of making a change – only then will you be compelled to make the change.


Pretty simple, hey? In fact, it is so simple that it almost seems too easy!  But as we have learned over time, it is always the simple concepts in life that are the most difficult to grasp.  We have all experienced these “change” moments in our personal lives: whether it is our weight issues, relationships, habits, etc.  There just comes a time when –CLICK– we morph. For years, friends or loved ones or doctors tell us that what we are doing will not work, that it isn’t healthy or sustainable. And like all good advice, most of us instinctively allow it to flow in one ear and out the other; none of the “coaching” makes any difference.  But one morning we wake up and the epiphany strikes! We realize that we need to change and just like that – we do. All that was needed was the time for us to wrap our heads around the need for change. The problem when it comes to leading a business and driving results is time. Time is one of our biggest enemies when it comes to achieving the level of success we desire.


Over the years I have created a process that is based on this theory and that helps accelerate the change process that leaders and their businesses need to make.  It has not been an easy path to proving this theory though! In fact, I think Einstein was able to prove The Theory of General Relativity in a shorter period of time. Of course, most of my clients would freely admit that I am no Einstein.  


Years of study, practice and implementation have shown me that the sheer desire of my clients to succeed or, to put it a different way, their intense fear of failure is confronted by the need to change. Change is scary but ultimately not the most difficult part. The true challenge was putting together the business information that showed the leader where their strategy or level of success was at risk and then defining the necessary changes they or their organization need to make to get back on track. But, like a bolt of lightning, it hit me!! The best way to make some of the toughest people in the world change is to use their own information to convince them (insert diabolical laugh here). 


Hence, the Strategic and Operational Model came into existence. Not only is it a tool to identify disconnects in the business model but it is also the navigational beacon, if you will, for all actions that need to be taken.  So I use my clients’ strategy as proof that the tactics they are implementing will not accomplish THEIR objectives.  In fact, one client protested and I paraphrase, “You use my own words and strategy to beat me with, like a stick to the side of my head.” Now, I cleaned up the language a bit but the meaning isn’t lost. These leaders are experts in negotiating and are accustomed to getting what they want. They have a unique ability to discount any behavior or psychological conversation by categorizing it as ‘nice to have but not necessary’. However, when they are confronted with their own information and become aware of the risk at hand, the business reality of what needs to change is apparent and they ultimately Make the Change.


Just in case you are still skeptical about good old Barry’s advice, just know there is an even bigger up side to this process. This entire discovery over the need to change and the risk to the enterprise happens in the Executive’s office. There is no need for a burning platform to drive change, no need to create chaos in the business. It’s just like looking into a mirror and seeing the future and adjusting the business for the desired outcome.  Change takes place more quickly when one has a sense of purpose, which is consistent with the strategies of the organization. Now that is an outcome every good leader can afford.



My goal for this blog has always been two-fold. First, I have the opportunity to share my insights and years of experience with you, the reader. And second, I myself get to hear your thoughts, opinions, experiences, etc. To make this blog a mutually beneficial experience, I would ask that you take the time to post your comments, your questions and your own war stories from your years in the business. Let’s use this blog to generate dialogue on the issues we’ve all faced in our businesses and work together to come to some great solutions.


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Categories: Business Management, Coaching, Consulting, General, Leadership | Tags: , , , ,

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