The Colors of Change – Tools for Change Management


Leading change requires change agents to exercise influence. Understanding individual motivations and assumptions matters. People come in different colors. Understanding each color and the motivations and assumptions that drive each one can help you get into the shoes of others, and consequently, help you understand how to best help them embrace change. There are five colors. There is no bad color or good color. Each color brings a different perspective, thinking style, and work style to the table.

Yellow – Power

YellowPrint thinkers believe that change only occurs when power backs it up. They are always looking for commonalities, and are typically coalition builders. They can deal with conflict. Sometimes YellowPrint thinkers are perceived as back-room deal makers serving their own interest, but more often, they are searching for solutions that serve the greater good. They negotiate, lobby,  and make deals with the goal of arriving at a solution that is good for people at large. The election of the Pope is a classic example of YellowPrint process in action, where the Cardinals decide who will be the next Pope, doing so behind closed doors.

Blue – Rationality

BluePrint thinkers believe there is one best way, and employing rational approach of thinking, analyzing, and then acting yields the best result. BluePrint thinkers make things simple, and execute in a linear process. They claim objectivity through mathematical precision, and analysis. Their goal is to eliminate uncertainty and make things predictable. BluePrint thinkers can be perceived as inflexible and rigid. They are often accused of seeing people as resources, rather than people. Classic Project Management is an example of BluePrint thinking in implementation.

Red – Motivation

RedPrint Thinkers believe human beings are human beings and so the best way to influence them is to seduce them. People will only change if they are motivated to change. Their goal becomes to create the desire to change. The most superficial example of this is the carrot and stick. More deeply, RedPrint thinkers try to understand the deep motivations of others, apply coaching leadership styles, and avoid the words “have to” in their dialogue.

Green – Learning

GreenPrint thinkers are motivated through learning. The realization that one is incompetent is viewed as good news. It means it is an opportunity to learn. They can be over-optimistic, and can be perceived as not results-oriented. Their general strategy is first to make people aware, then help people become competent based on this new awareness.

White – Energy

WhitePrint thinkers believe the change only happens when the time is right. They typically do not need an organization or a boss to function. They work below the surface. WhitePrint thinkers are often consultants, entrepreneurs or scientists. They innovate, and can often be found at the edges of a company, working on something nobody asked for. They try to understand what blocks change, and work around it or remove the blockage to achieve their objectives. Wikipedia is an example of WhitePrint thinking in action.

What color are you? What are the colors of your colleagues? Understanding this can help you lead change more effectively. There is a nice set of short videos on this topic which you can find here.

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One thought on “The Colors of Change – Tools for Change Management

  1. Pingback: Change Colour « Ribbits

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