Rick Maurer, author of Beyond the Wall of Resistance and other books on leadership and change, developed the Energy Bar™ as a free tool to help people in organizations get their ideas across in ways that get people committed and engaged. RickRick has advised leaders from many countries on ways to apply this new tool successfully.


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If Then? versus Now What?


Interested in getting things accomplished at work?

If so, you and I can learn a lot from people who take exercise seriously. The New York Times Magazine (6/3/2018) included a short piece titled Creating a Concrete Plan for Success. Researchers found that:

  • having a concrete plan wasn’t enough, AND
  • good intention alone generally didn’t ensure success.

In other words, motivation without real commitment regarding diet and exercise was inadequate. However, people who also created if-then statements did the best at meeting their goals.

For instance, I am at a conference center this week. It is a lovely place in the Catskills. Exercise options are limited and the food is amazingly good. I did a good if-then statement regarding exercise. I know from past visits that weather doesn’t always support running, and the facility has no exercise room. So, I packed the guidelines for a seven-minute routine that I can do without gym equipment. And I packed an exercise mat. Just this morning, it was raining, so my if-then thinking kicked in.

But, diet is another thing. I came here all motivated to eat right, but the options are tasty and fattening. And the desserts, wow. I didn’t create an if-then statement and I am paying the price. So, this morning I had to admit to myself that the “if” was a given and I had to come up with something I could do whenever I faced temptation.

How does this relate to organizations?

Too often plans are made that don’t seriously look at potential pitfalls. It’s as if people believe that the mere mention of what could go wrong will somehow jinx their pet projects.

I think that “don’t jinx it” thinking is wrong.

If you agree, you might try this out. Take a look at my list of Seven Challenges of Change and ask yourself what could go wrong and identify what you’ll do if that challenge occurs. 

In Beyond the Wall of Resistance, I wrote about an organization that used What If? scenarios to anticipate big problems and come up with contingency plans that not only gave them specific ways to address problems, but it actually helped them avoid those problems before they ever occurred.

I’ve prepared a short worksheet that explains what they did and my suggestions for a good way to replicate their successes. If you’d like a copy, just send me an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. (Since I am at this conference center all week trying to avoid temptation, I won’t be able to send anything out until early next week.)

- Rick Maurer