In my last post about values I mentioned
Everybody is committed to the change once every stake holder has decided the change is necessary and beneficial.
Now let’s look at this from a perspective of someone who is on the receiving end of a change. Or in other words change is made to me.
Let’s assume your partner wants to move house and is breaking the news to you. You’re quite attached to the current living quarters as it meets most of your needs and you’ve done a fair bit here and there to make it so. It’s only natural to be surprised and say first, “What? Were here quite comfortable. Look what we ‘ve done to the place!” That’s a conflict that needs to be solved between both parties directly or it can develop into active resistance to the change.
Corporate Immune system
In an organisation multiple stakeholders have different levels of commitment to the status quo. The existing system may be working for a great many quite well. Hence change is often a time consuming process. The benefit the change will bring must be clearly visible and understood. The change agent may even not understand the full complexity of the status quo and the level of efficiency it provides. Hence stakeholders will argue quite hard their case. Each individual needs to have the right voicing their concern. Often a strong opposer becomes a big advocat of the change one he understands it.
Dare – Scare – Share
I read this some time ago and wrote it down in my notebook, although I can’t recall who said it. Some people are so aware of the (posssible) strong resistance to change that they don’t even try to voice an idea and challenge the status quo. This is where Dare comes in. Have the courage and say so when you see a thing that can be improved. Nothing wrong if you didn’t know the whole story and have track back, you learned something. More often others are so entangled in the status quo that they don’t see there’s an other way and they are very grateful. Scare is a different way to approach the resistance. Some time ago an organisation I know made a profound change in their sales process. There was resistance with some sales people, sales managers, administrators, you name it. After all the talking was done there were a few opposers left. They got a choice, either accept the change or look for a different job. Some left and were given good support for the transition. Be aware, this power tactic does only work in certain circumstances! Lastly, Sharing is a more often used strategy to work with the resistance. This is the result of talking with the stakeholders, understanding the investment in the status quo, what is their benefit, what are they afraid to loose, and share what are they gaining, what stays the same and how does it fit together and interfaces. I talked about this in the value post a bit.
(And then, I could’ve used the good old StarTrek versus Borg example, “Resistance is futile”. There is not much to gain for humans while the Borg play the power game.)
Untangle ideas from the ‘how”
Two things I’ve learned help when explaining change.
- make it clear what the idea is, share the vision and tell about the principles
- explain what the process is how to get there (if you know it, else ask!)
These two things are fundamentally different. The order is important as is not to mix the two. Principles before process is a good catchphrase for that.