The job of a Change Maker, to borrow a much used phrase, is to ‘comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable’. Despite the huge amount of change we are all exposed to in our day-to-day lives, the psychology of resistance has not changed one iota. Put simply, we still prefer what we know and are familiar with and we will naturally resist the extra effort required to change.
The basic psychology is that people move away from pain and move towards pleasure. As a Change Maker the conclusion is clear, make change appealing and fun and people will be attracted to it and make the status quo painful and hard work. This is easier said than done however, so here are a few ‘tips of the trade’ that experience has taught me work in most organisations.
Tip #1 – Play with those that want to play – some folk have a predilection for change, start with them and create a game changing internal team. To help our clients identify these people we use the GC Index® which is an online assessment tool that measures how individuals can make an impact inside their organisations. By looking at two dimensions – Imagination & Obsession – the psychometric identifies the five roles that are critical for a Game-Changing Team to exist. Such tools bring science into what was previously an intuitive decision, and one that was often prone to failure. If you are interested in finding out some more click here.
Tip #2 – Improve your tolerance of failure – the way failure is dealt with is a sure sign of how successful any change process / programme will be. Stop asking ‘who?’ Why dispense large amounts of energy to discover who is responsible when, once they have been found, nothing else changes? The working assumption is that carelessness can be avoided if put under the spotlight. No it can’t. The ‘why?’ question is far more powerful. In change, failure is inevitable unless risks are totally eliminated, in which case the status quo will prevail. How you deal with failure is key to your success, failure is the ‘University of Life’ giving you a tutorial; so pay attention as the fees for the session can be steep! My advice is fail forward and fail fast.
Tip #3 – Remove rigidity, replace with agility – learn quickly what works and what doesn’t, in your organisation. Beware, ‘Steering Committees’ and too much process and bureaucracy wrapped around change. Steering Committees are misnamed, they should be called Brake Committees as their very existence slows things down. If you have to oversee a change programme outside of your normal management structure then at least call them Learning Committees so they are reminded that their job is to become a forum for lessons to be shared, new habits to be applauded as well as decisions to be taken.
Tip #4 – Apply the 10 meter rule – the person that works within 10 meters of any problem is the person who knows more about the problem than anyone else on the planet. Talk to them, ask great questions, be interested, listen carefully and with empathy and they will give you all the insight you need to help solve the problem. After all they live with it every day, they see the consequences and it will bother them that it just isn’t right. Also, they probably have a few ideas on what can be done to solve it too, it’s just nobody has asked them.
Tip #5 – Apply the 10 mile rule – zoom out away from the problem and bring in people who are seeing it for the first time. These somewhat naïve challengers are best equipped to help re-frame the challenge and inject some new thinking into the process. Outsiders are not encumbered by the prevailing paradigm, they do not know the art of the possible around here, so are much more likely to upturn a long held belief and assumption and discover a ‘new’ way of approaching the problem. They have to have credibility but their voice should be heard.
Tip #6 – Mind the gap – take a look at what’s missing as well as what’s present. Adopt a future focus and develop a compelling picture of what destination you are heading towards. Measure the gap between where you are and where you want to be and develop future focussed measures to encourage you to drive forward. Far too many measures are backward looking, it’s your speed of progress that counts more than the distance you have covered.
Tip #7 – Catch people doing it right – the focus on non-compliance and statistical problem measurement rarely encourages people to look at instances when the problem did not occur, when everything worked well. Focusing on when things go well changes the psychology of the interaction. Asking what happened when great results have been delivered have people attracted to the discussion as opposed to the far more familiar and habitual, ‘what went wrong?’ discussion. The power of the positive discussion is to replicate success, a far more rewarding challenge than eliminating failure, although the content of the discussions will be much the same the feeling of the discussions are very different.
Tip #8 – Look in strange places – your organisation and how it operates is perfectly formed to give you the results and outcomes you are getting now. If you want different results then you may have to look elsewhere. Who is struggling with the same challenges you face and how are they tackling them. A few moments desk research can take you to some surprising places, so open Google and be curious, see where this takes you. A discussion with and / or visit to another organisation can be very eye-opening.
Tip #9 – Get nature on your side – the great outdoors can do wonders to change people’s perspective. Use walk and talk sessions to discuss challenges and opportunities where you feel the wind in your hair, the sun on your back and the exertion of walking. All combine to shake up the mind-set and encourage people to think differently. The quality of conversation increases dramatically when the mobile phones and laptops are out of sight and out of mind for a short while.
Tip #10 – Use your only real USP well – the folk who work for you do not work for anyone else and creating ways to tap into their natural curiosity, desire to succeed and competitive spirit is the fuel that drives every successful change process and will create a hard to copy competitive advantage. Make your change process attractive and enjoyable, remove the fear of failure and celebrate successes when they occur and you will have all the key ingredients to future proof your organisation.
If you need any help with this challenge then please contact us and we can co-create an approach that will work for you.