The 20-50-30 Rule

When you are introducing change to your organization, keep the “20-50-30” rule in mind.  You can expect that roughly 20 percent of your people will generally resist any new idea or approach. If you’re like countless other leaders, you probably spend way too much of your precious time trying to convince this group to get on board—even though experience suggests that this fifth of your organization will remain unconvinced and simply try to drag you down.

In most organizations, the next 50 percent of people are neutral or what we might call “fence sitters” when it comes to change. They will look around and wait to see how others react. If the people around them sign up for the change, they are likely to quickly follow.

The final 30 percent represents the change-friendly population who are usually the quickest to accept change. By focusing your efforts on the 30 percent that are change-friendly and the 50 percent that are likely to get on board, you can optimize your success rate in implementing any change initiative. If you focus too much of your time on the first 20 percent, you take your eye off the majority of people who are most likely to help you implement the change.