Noer Consulting
Breaking Free Overview

Breaking Free connects several interrelated themes: the importance of learning how to learn as the only certain response to an ambiguous and confusing future, individual differences in the way we and or organizations cope with change and transition (the response factor), the necessity of reconceptualizing the roles of our leaders and the process of leadership, and our – and our organizations – need to break free of the limitations and constraints of the old reality and establish freedom-oriented organizations.  Order Breaking Free from



The Response Factor Model


The response factor model deals with four ways people vary in their response to change and strategies to help them move forward.  The two dimensions of this variance are differences in their comfort with change and their capacity for change.  The four response types are:

  • The Overwhelmed – Low comfort with change; low capacity for change.
  • The Entrenched – Low comfort with change; high capacity for change.
  • The BSer – High comfort with change; low capacity for change.
  • The Learner – High comfort with change; high capacity for change.



Response Type Transition Behaviors 


People vary in their reaction to change and transition and require different strategies to move them toward the necessary learning response.  They vary in their capacity for changing (the ability to learn from their experience), and their comfort with change (the readiness to learn).  Breaking Free discusses four distinct response patterns and transition behaviors.


  • Low comfort with change and low capacity for change.  Individuals with this response pattern are called overwhelmed.  Their primary transition behavior is to withdraw from the fray and avoid the necessary learning.


  • Low comfort with change and high capacity for change.  Those with this response are called entrenched.  Their basic transition behavior involves tenaciously clinging to narrow learnings that worked in the past but are of limited value in the new reality.


  • High comfort with change and low capacity for change.  People of this response type are called Bsers because they con themselves and others.  Their transition behavior is made up of aggressive hip-shooting grounded in high drive and low substance.


  • High comfort with change and high capacity for change.  This is the learner type.  The primary transition behavior of the learner involves positively dealing with the change (engaging), and learning new, more relevant skills (growing).



Strategies for Helping Response Types Cope with Change


The strategies that follow focus on individuals, but there are also organizational level interventions since there are also overwhelmed, entrenched, BS, and learning organizations. What follows is a summary of strategies outlined in Breaking Free to help these four types successfully cope with change:



  • Help in dealing with stress, fear, and frustration.
  • Competent leaders and peers who are able and willing to help.
  • A safe and supportive environment for rebuilding self-esteem.
  • Phased-in transitions with success-loaded mini-challenges.



  • Understanding and help in coping with anger and guilt.
  • Feedback, encouragement, and support from a competent boss.
  • Coaching and straight talk.
  • Phased-in transitions with a bridge from the old to the new.



  • Close supervision and careful monitoring.
  • Project and individual assignments, not line management.
  • Developmental assignments that are safe for the organization and push the employee.
  • Forced self-awareness!



  • Protection from attempting to be all things to all people.
  • Latitude, air time, and assignments with impact.
  • Developmental roles and assignments.
  • Rewards and reinforcement.




Freedom-Oriented Organizations


I call organizations that have internalized the learning response type, those that have broken free, freedom-oriented organizations.  These organizations are discussed in Breaking Free and have the best chance of growth and prosperity in the new reality and they have the following six characteristics:


  • People in freedom-oriented organizations are there because they choose to be, not because they have to be.


  • The first priority of people in freedom-oriented organizations is to help others; self-help follows.


  • People in freedom-oriented organizations are very clear on their customer, their product, and their value added.


  • People in freedom-oriented organizations conceptualize their organization and their personal mission as having a galvanizing societal purpose.


  • People in freedom-oriented organizations are a part of unifying structures and processes.


  • People in freedom-oriented organizations consciously work to eliminate victim mentality and to work and learn in groups.