Have you ever wondered why some topics, people, or plans resist change?

Written for MILK magazine and originally published May 2023.

The dairy conference “season” is drawing to a close, and you undoubtedly have many good ideas you would like to implement on your dairy.

After my presentations, I’m often asked a variation of this question. “How do I get the rest of the owners or leadership team to make the changes we need to make?” “I give them the facts, but we don’t make a decision.”

Change is necessary to survive and thrive. No one operates their dairy the same way today as fifteen years ago. Yet, changes in management practices often lag behind farm production growth because of resistance to change. Why?

Here is the first level of resistance.
“I don’t like it.”

This is an emotional response to change, and this resistance cannot be overcome with more information or facts. It is often rooted in fear, loss, or misaligned values and vision.

  • Loss of purpose. Example: The founder resists transition planning fearing they will be bored during retirement
  • Loss of prestige. Example: Changing roles in the business could diminish status.
  • Loss of control. Example: Estate planning that dilutes ownership which then decreases power and control.
  • Misaligned Values: This is not aligned with my principles or what I value. An example is resistance to expanding the herd. If family time is important, adding more work will not align with that value.
  • Misaligned Vision: This is not where I am going. Example: One partner wants to expand the dairy, while the other wants to expand into row crops.

Ever wonder why transition planning gets pushed down the road year after year? It’s often resistance to change coupled with a perceived loss.


The senior generation may feel that their best years are behind them, and there is nothing interesting to look forward to in retirement. Additionally, they may not like it that the next generation is stepping into their shoes and working the business deals they once did.


“I don’t like it” is emotionally based resistance that takes time and trust to work through.   Rush through this resistance at your own peril.  If the stakes are high, it may be best to take time, gather facts, and structure meetings with clear agendas to create a collaborative solution.

If the resistance involves aligning Values and Visions, a neutral, experienced outside facilitator is often the safest solution. A facilitator can bring the structure and a collaborative process to create a win-win outcome everyone can support.


No one knows who first uttered this phrase. “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”  Overcoming resistance to change is hard, but failing to change has serious consequences.

Collaboratively working through resistance will make your team stronger. You’ll feel more confident, and the next round of change will be even easier as your team strengthens its “change skills.”


Look for the final two levels of resistance later this year.


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