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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

AM23-PDW4: A Taste of the Immunity to Change Method

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Professional Development Workshop: PDW4 (live)

Warthog Venue
Monday 26 June 2023

10.00am to 2.00pm SAST

A Taste of the Immunity to Change Method

Facilitator: Leslie Goldenberg


The conference theme of resurfacing soul, circularity and spirituality in today’s organizations and society extends, of course, to these aspects within each of us. What does our soul want, and why are we sometimes going around in circles in pursuit of what we seem to want, and what does this do to our spirit?


The Immunity to Change (ITC) method developed by Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey offers a powerful and rapid way to get under the surface of these sorts of questions and start to work with them. It has proven to be a potent tool for working with individuals and groups grappling with seemingly intractable change challenges that go around in circles, or with leaders who are faltering for hard-to-discern reasons. I sometimes refer to it as psychoanalysis for business.


The workshop will offer a taste of the Immunity to Change method by inviting participants to work on a personal challenge. This will primarily be an experiential workshop. Most of the agenda will be spent giving participants an opportunity to experience the approach.
The ITC map making process uncovers competing commitments which make circular behaviors make sense, as well as the underlying assumptions behind those competing commitments. In the map, we find that we are operating with one foot on the gas pedal – the challenge we are seemingly trying to address – and one foot on the brake. The competing commitments and big assumptions that keep a foot on the brake are typically unconscious. By mapping them out and bringing them to light, it becomes possible to address them and move forward.

Since my initial certification training with Kegan and Lahey in 2012, I have led more than 50 ITC processes for various individuals and groups, including a PDW at the 2019 ISPSO annual meeting in New York. I have mentored others who are new to using the approach. I’ve also attended three further workshops with Bob Kegan. I envision the ISPSO session to appeal to a wide audience of leaders, coaches, organizational consultants, and others with an interest in new approaches to leadership and personal development. The workshop will be appropriate to all levels and no prior knowledge or experience with ITC is necessary. For those who are eager to know what they’re signing up for, the HBR article The Real Reason People Won’t Change offers an excellent introduction.

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  1. Distinguish between a technical change and an adaptive change
  2. Apply techniques to develop an immunity to change map
  3. Identify ways to address typical challenges in applying the Immunity to Change method
  4. Apply techniques to guide others in creating powerful Immunity to Change maps
  5. Apply techniques to create safe, useful experiments that can help to shift a hidden competing commitment
  6. Apply techniques to navigate both the individual and collective immunities that impact a team's map-making

Biographical Summary

Leslie practices as an analytic coach, working with leaders to hear the unconscious at work in organizational life. Leslie earned her M.A. from UCLA and B.A. from UC Berkeley and is currently a Candidate Scholar at the Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis. She holds the PCC credential from the International Coach Federation and a Master Coach certification from the Hudson Institute of Coaching, where she is a member of the faculty. She is also an award-winning ceramic artist. A mom of three nearly grown kids, Leslie lives in Los Angeles with her husband of 33 years.