Chapter 23. Red Light/Green Light: From Fear to Hope

Niki Nichols


  • To help individuals or groups to discuss upcoming changes openly.

  • To identify and address fears, doubts, questions, and hopes about an impending organizational change.

  • To learn to see the positive aspects of change.

Group Size

Fifteen to twenty-five participants from a department in an organization undergoing reorganization or other change.

Time Required

One to one and one-half hours.


  • One of each (red, yellow, and green) index cards for each participant.

  • Pens or pencils for each participant.

  • Newsprint felt-tipped markers (or whiteboard markers) for the facilitator.

  • A newsprint flip chart (or whiteboard) with a "traffic signal" drawn in red, yellow, and green.

Physical Setting

A writing surface, desk, table, or clipboard for each participant.


  1. The facilitator introduces the goals of the activity, then asks participants to list some of the changes taking place in the organization at the present time. He or she lists these on newsprint. (Five minutes.)

  2. The facilitator explains that most people look at how any change will impact or change them personally. Some personal reactions to change could include that they feel successful with what they are doing now, they recall a past change that caused problems, they do not wish to learn new ways of doing things, or they fear failure in the new environment.

  3. The facilitator shows the traffic signal drawn on newsprint and labels the lights as Fears (red) Questions or Reservations ...

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