Project Management Institute

Change is impossible without changing your mind


Change is the only constant in life. If you have a difficult time with change, you will have a difficult time with life. On the other hand …

  • Those who can handle change are productive.
  • Those who can create change can solve problems and are seen as successful.
  • Those who can inspire others to change are leaders who create vision, focus on opportunities and consistently surpass expectations.

In this paper and presentation, you will discover the following:

  • How axiology and the three classes of value affect change and how to use this knowledge to your benefit.
  • How the emerging science of neuro-axiology helps you to manage, create and inspire change.
  • A new way of looking at the thinking and choices that affect you, your team, and your stakeholders.
  • How neuro-axiology can improve your leadership abilities, your critical thinking and your productivity by helping you create REAL, LASTING change.


Root Cause of Change

Change happens because you recognize problems, challenges, opportunities or issues. When you analyze the root cause of these situations, you come to one important truth… Thinking is the root cause of almost every problem you face. There is good news though… Thinking is also the solution to almost every problem you face.

If you were to improve your thinking, you would be able to improve almost everything you deal with on a day-to-day basis. Think about the problems and challenges you are currently facing on your project. If you or your team members or stakeholders had thought differently, you would probably not be having the challenge.

The Speed of Change

The speed at which change happens is appearing to occur faster and faster. That's because change is exponential. When we are looking at change, say, thirty years ago, it doesn't appear to be as fast because we are not in the steep upward climb of the exponential curve yet. But we are getting closer and closer to that curve every day.

Look at the following examples:

  • Information: One week's worth of NY Times contains more information than a person could access in a lifetime in the 18th century.
  • English language: There now are 540,000 words (5x what existed in the 1600s).
  • Unique Information: Four Exabytes (1019) will be generated this year (totaling more than the previous 5,000 years combined).
  • The top 10 “in-demand” jobs of 2010 did not exist in 2004.
  • One in four workers have been with their current employer less than one year.
  • One in two workers have been with their current employer less than five years.

Change is sudden, exponential and constant. It is also impossible unless you “change your mind” first.

“Companies that can't change the way that they think about change won't be able to change the way they compete. Companies that can't change in this new environment can't play in this new economy” (Reich, 2007).

Things are changing so fast that it can make your head spin. And since we can't do anything about the speed of change, let's look at your head.

Axiology and Change

Your Thinking

The average person thinks about 12,000 to 50,000 thoughts per day. Over 95% of those thoughts are thoughts that you've thought before. Very few of them are original. As your brain likes to conserve energy, it is constantly recognizing these repetitive thinking and valuing patterns and forming habits.

Every thought, choice, action and reaction you have ever had, made or taken in your life is based upon your perception of what will create the greatest net value in your life at that moment. It's how you are wired; it's how the human mind works. Values and valuing are the backbone of the thinking and, hence, the backbone of change.

In the 1960s, Dr. Robert S. Hartman made a discovery that allows you to quantifiably measure your critical thinking and valuing habits. He discovered principles that provide order and structure to valuing. Using logic and mathematics, he made what was previously intangible tangible, much in the same way that Galileo applied mathematics to motion and made it tangible. For us today, it seems absolutely natural, a tangible thing, that if we go 100 miles in two hours, we have a speed of 50 miles per hour. But for Galileo to produce the equation v = s/t was a tremendous achievement. Dr. Hartman's logic is also a tremendous achievement that provides us with tangible measurements of our thinking.

Foundations of Axiology

Dr. Hartman is known as the father of formal axiology. In 1972, he was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Economics for his discoveries. One such discovery was that every one of your thoughts will fall into one of three dimensions, or classes, of value. He identified each of these classes of value as follows:

Systemic: These are thoughts that are conceptual and theoretical in nature. They may involve systems, procedures, plans and expectations. This is the class of value that is all about ideas and mental constructs. Changes in a project in this class of value involve the project plan, design and the methodologies to be followed.

Extrinsic: These are thoughts that involve the practical and situational. Extrinsic things can be measured, compared, assessed and identified. Changes in this dimension would include the tasks and the metrics, anything that is tangible.

Intrinsic: These thoughts and values are personal and spiritual in nature. The intrinsic involves infinitely valuable things like people, knowledge, freedom, courage and integrity. In a project, these are your team members, stakeholders, executive sponsors and the rest of the people who would be affected by these changes, including their participation on the project as well as the results of the project.

Understanding Value

Understanding how humans value and make value judgments leads you to understand HOW thoughts are processed by you and your project team. This can give you the ability to lead change rather than manipulate or coerce it.

When you understand how you are valuing your team members, stakeholders and others involved with the project, you can begin to see how to be a more effective project manager and change manager. And remember, how you are viewing these changes depends a great deal on the valuing and thinking habits that you have developed throughout your life (not solely on the actual performance or ideas of your colleagues).

Your brain is hard-wired to always choose what adds the most value to you at that moment. Your valuing habits are formed over your life. Some of your valuing habits may not be in line with the timeless principles of value and success. When you understand how your brain makes value judgments, you can begin to consciously distance yourself from unsupportive thoughts and consciously choose those thoughts that will lead to your success.

Your “6 Advisors”™

Metaphor of Thinking/Valuing

You have “advisors” in your life. Friends, family, mentors, peers and even paid consultants may be advisors to you. Some of your advisors may be very knowledgeable; others, however, are not. You can choose to listen to or ignore these advisors because they are just that … advisors.

Whether you realize it or not, you also have advisors within your mind. You have six very different and unique thought processes that influence your decisions, beliefs, attitudes, emotions, personality, behaviors and, ultimately, the results of your life. Metaphorically, we call these six dimensions of thought your “6 Advisors.” You can choose to listen to or ignore these Advisors, just like any other “advisors” in your life.

Your 6 Advisors are divided into two distinct worlds. Your External World Advisors give you advice on how they think you should function in the world—from your skin out. Your Internal World Advisors give you advice on how they think you should value yourself—from your skin in.

Imagine sitting at the boardroom table of your mind with three External World Advisors, corresponding to each of Hartman's dimensions of value, on one side and three Internal World Advisors on the other side. (See Exhibit 1.)

Your 6 Advisors

Exhibit 1 – Your 6 Advisors

Before we continue, there is a key principle to understand: You are not your thoughts. You are the one at the head of the boardroom table in your mind. You have the ability as a human being to observe your thoughts. You have the ability to follow the direction of a thought or ask your mind for another thought. The choice is yours at the head of the table.

Your Valuing Habits

Mathematically, the intrinsic is infinitely more valuable than the extrinsic. The extrinsic is infinitely more valuable than the systemic. As a project manager and leader, you are often encouraged to focus on the plans, processes and procedures (the systemic value) along with tasks, skills, abilities and metrics (the extrinsic value) associated with the project and project personnel. After all, that is why the Project Management Institute (PMI®) exists. PMI grew from the need for systemic practices. In 1969, five people gathered to pull together the best ideas and practices around project management. Over the years, PMI matured by gathering and analyzing data to assemble metrics that tangibly demonstrated (extrinsically) the value of each of the best practices. It's time to look at the intrinsic and all three classes of value as you look at the changes you are implementing.

So, how does your mind view change and the changes around you?

Let's take a look, using the 6 Advisors™ metaphor.

Measuring Critical Valuing Habits

Looking First at You, the Project Manager

As a leader, you have critical valuing habits that you have developed over the years. These may have been developed intentionally or not. In either case, these habits impact your project management and how you think about change.

Identifying Your Out-of-Balance Valuing Habits and Thoughts

Let's examine each one of your 6 Advisors to give you an idea of the types of thoughts to look out for. As you read each, consider how this thought process can impact your ability to handle, create or inspire change.


This thought process, or Advisor, deals with the capacity to put yourself in the shoes of another person and accurately assess that person and/or the circumstances being experienced by that person. When Out of Balance, you might recognize the following tendencies in this Advisor:

  • Put up walls of resistance. Are skeptical, cautious and untrusting.
  • Are impressed or intimidated by appearance and/or titles.
  • Value only those who think like you and treat people unfairly when they don't fit in.
  • Believe a person's value is solely dependent on his performance.
  • Question the legitimacy or intent of another person's requests.

Practical Judgment

This Advisor handles your capacity to be fully present in the “Now” and engaged in what you're doing, to know what needs to be done, how best to do it and how to stay focused on the task. When Out of Balance, you might recognize the following inclinations of this Advisor:

  • Have difficulty finding excitement, passion and joy in your work and staying focused on your current tasks.
  • Are impatient, insensitive or even inconsiderate when things are not done well or on time.
  • Are frustrated, overwhelmed or even annoyed by all the things you have to do.
  • Are resistant to order, structure and attempts to control the way things are done.
  • Blow things out of proportion or minimize their seriousness.

Systems Thinking

These thought processes involve your capacity to think clearly, to plan, to solve problems, and to be open to different, new or creative ideas. When Out of Balance, you'll notice that you lean toward the following traits:

  • Resist or rebel when others try to make you conform and disrespect or overly respect people in authority.
  • Are closed and unsupportive of ideas that don't agree with yours.
  • Consistently point out the flaws in other people's ideas.
  • Are uncomfortable, skeptical or closed to ideas that interfere with or threaten your ideas.
  • Easily lose focus or allow interruptions to plans and schedules.


This Advisor handles your capacity to accurately assess, unconditionally accept and intrinsically value you. When Out of Balance, this Advisor might cause you to have the following tendencies:

  • Discourage yourself from accepting yourself without condition or judgment.
  • Think that your self-worth is tied to how you look, the things you do and/or the things you own.
  • Cause your actions to be inconsistent with your ideas and opinions.
  • Have difficulty separating your ideas and opinions from your self-worth.
  • Feel obligated to sacrifice your time and energy to meet the needs of others.
  • Cannot move forward without dwelling on your past mistakes.

Role Awareness

This advisor deals with your capacity to understand, fully appreciate and find joy, fulfillment and value in the way you invest your life. When Out of Balance, this Advisor might cause you to lean toward the following traits:

  • Expect yourself to do too many things and do them all perfectly.
  • Have unrealized or unrealistic expectations about how rewarding life should be.
  • Over focus on recognition, awards or compensation for validating your worth.
  • May expect less for yourself than you are actually capable of achieving.
  • Function poorly in stressful situations.
  • Find little personal value in the way you spend your time and energy.


These thought habits run your capacity to be motivated, guided and directed by a sense of meaning and purpose in everything you do. When Out of Balance, this Advisor might cause you to do the following:

  • Think that you “have to,” “should,” or “must” do the things you do.
  • Believe that the work you do does not add value to your life.
  • Create vivid mental images or emotional impressions about the way your life should be and become attached to these ideas.
  • Resist or discourage yourself from trying new things, even when they could be in your best interest.
  • Think that you should never question your ideas, beliefs or values.
  • Not have a clear or strong sense of direction, meaning or purpose for your life.

Identifying Your Supporting Valuing Habits

The Hartman Value Profile

Robert S. Hartman, Ph.D., developed a tool that accurately measures the thought processes that influence human behavior and how you “see” change. The Hartman Value Profile (HVP) instrument is an axiological inventory that measures a person's capacity to make value judgments concerning the world and one's self. It utilizes two sets of words and phrases. These words and phrases are the linguistic equivalents of axiological equations.

Using these axiological equations, the HVP measures the pattern of decision-making that a person uses when processing information. Unlike other assessments, it is not a self-reporting instrument and does not ask respondents to describe themselves, their traits or their tendencies. Thus, it is not as susceptible to bias as some personality and behavioral inventories are. The profile places its emphasis upon thinking, not behaving. It recognizes that the same behavior can spring from different decision-making styles in different people.

Research has found that you think first then feel emotions then take action to achieve results. The HVP allows us to determine the root thinking style that lies at the base of your decision-making. It pinpoints capacities you actually possess.

Note: The HVP is backed by hundreds of validity studies performed over the last 50 years, including Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) studies that lend great confidence that the profile instruments measure a person's basic value structure and the dynamics of her value judgments.

The 6 Advisors Assessment

The 6 Advisors Assessment Report uses a proprietary application of the HVP in order to provide a clear and concise view of the thoughts that support or sabotage your efforts.

How does the assessment work? You are given two worksheets. The first set of 18 words and phrases, Worksheet 1, measures your external (world) Advisors. The second set measures your internal (self) Advisors.

By following the instructions and ranking these items, your results are calculated and presented online as a series of six graphs, one for each of your Advisors. You will notice that some of the bars are green and in the center. These are considered “balanced” capacities for you and will support you in your efforts. You may also notice a few yellow, orange or red bars in your graphs. These are thought habits that are out of balance and not supporting your efforts to succeed. To take a free test drive of this assessment, visit (See Exhibit 2.)

Example of Assessment Results

Exhibit 2 – Example of Assessment Results

In order be more effective at handling, managing and inspiring change, you must learn to respond to your balanced thoughts. (These would be top-left and top-center graphs, or thought processes, in Exhibit 2, as these graphs have the most green/balanced valuing habits.) Yet, in many cases where you are under pressure or stress, you might tend to react to the out-of-balance thoughts (which may sound louder or be more recognizable in your mind) before consciously hearing and choosing the balanced thought.

What would be different in your leadership of change if you could stop doing the things that you knew you should stop doing? What would be different if you began to excel at the head of the boardroom table in your mind? What if you began identifying an unsupportive idea or reaction and instead choosing the better thoughts from your more balanced advisors at your mind's boardroom table? What if you were able to help your team members improve in a similar way?

Changing Your Approach to Change

Many times our educational processes encourage us to focus on correcting our weaknesses. As you look at your results, know that you cannot unthink a thought. You cannot simply erase a valuing habit. Those neural pathways have been created in your brain, and your thoughts like to travel along the well-worn pathways in your brain. You can, however, consciously replace those habits by creating stronger (supportive) habits. It will take time and effort (and maybe a little outside coaching help).

In order to replace your out-of-balance thought habits, you must focus_on_your_strengths. When you review your results, look at the Advisor that is giving you the most balanced thoughts. This is the Advisor that you want to choose to listen to during the pivotal moments of your day. Your balanced thoughts will help you in putting aside your own agenda (baggage) and allow you to fully step into the world of those around you to provide the leadership they need to accomplish the goals of your project more effectively.

Speed of Change

We are living in exponential times. Let's look at text messages. The first commercial text message was sent in 1992 and today the total number of messages sent in one day exceeds the number of people on the planet.

In 1984, there were 1,000 internet devices… in 1992, 1,000,000… in 2008, 1,000,000,000.

Your Options for Change

When it comes to change, you have a choice.

You can be a Change Resistor and focus on change systemically. When you hear out-of-balance thoughts, they may sound like the following: “We're just fine.” “Let's get back to basics.” “That seems risky.” “That's not the way we did it in the past.” “That will ruin everything!” When you respond to change with an out-of-balance systemic advisor (systems thinking or self-direction), you will have the tendency to point out the flaws in new ideas and rationalize away any of the benefits.

You can also choose to be a Change Reactor. Again, this approach is systemic, and the thinking habits focus on handling it, coping with it or reacting to it. You will find yourself always trying to keep up, feeling left behind, frustrated and out of control. In either case, a systemic response will be something that you also “feel”—you will have an emotional or physiological response to the change. Those responses can range from cautious to resistant to resentful…from disappointment to frustration to anger. Learn to be aware of these feelings, and YOU, at the head of the boardroom table, will be better able to choose a more balanced valuing habit.

You can also focus on the “things” and be successful as a Change Agent. In this case, your mind is overvaluing the extrinsic. It will focus you on doing things faster, cheaper and better for linear improvement. The mind-set of the change agent is limited, mechanical, point-to-point and step-by-step. Your extrinsic valuing habits will help you create change, manage change and direct change, but they might be overlooking the big picture and the thought processes that can help you inspire exponential change.

You can choose to be a Change Master. A change master focuses on the intrinsic value of change. It works through a system but isn't tied or bound to it. It enlists others and never tries to go it alone (because that will only produce linear, temporary change.) It inspires others to bring ideas upward and outward and solicit and implement the good ideas from others.

A change master also has the following characteristics:

  • Doesn't focus on changing “it” because “it” is always changing.
  • Doesn't focus on specifics; focuses on “readiness.”
  • Is disciplined about “growth,” and focuses on “agility.”
  • Doesn't try to cut costs; focuses on increasing value.

A successful project manager is a change master! A change master doesn't depend on positional authority but rather focuses on great ideas and powerful visions and has the courage to handle, create and inspire exponential change. A successful change master knows that the only way to create exponential change is to inspire it and help other individuals to embrace change as well by changing their minds.

Take Away Points

•   How change impacts YOU depends on your thinking and valuing habits.

•   Your IMPACT on change depends on your thinking and valuing habits.

•   The only thing that you have complete control to change is your thinking and valuing.

•   Focusing on the Intrinsic value is the future of successful change.

•   You will make real, lasting changes to your thinking using the power of neuro-axiology!

•   Take your free assessment by going to There is absolutely no obligation, no selling and no cost. Your results are completely confidential.


Austin, J. (1991). The Hartman Value Profile (HVP & HVPII). Retrieved on June 25, 2008, from

Edwards, R. B., & Davis, J. W. (1991). Forms of value and valuation: Theory and applications. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Hartman, R. S. (undated). The measurement of value. Retrieved March 13, 2009, from

Six Advisors, Inc. (2006). About your 6 advisors. Retrieved on June 25, 2008, from

Reich, R. (2007). Your Job Is change. Retrieved online July 13, 2009, from

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

© 2009, Traci Duez
Originally published as a part of 2009 PMI Global Congress Proceedings – Orlando, Florida



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