Change is tough to absorb for anyone. Even the biggest change junkies I know (myself included) have some mental adjustments to make when change happens.
If you’re having to introduce change to a person, team or crowd, here are the steps I’ve seen repeated time and time again in a successful change event:
The first time around
Before you begin, make sure everyone knows what’s about to happen. The easiest way to attract a negative reaction is to keep folk in the dark.
In the first time through a new process, there is always a high degree of discomfort within everyone involved. The new process is brand new and the participants spend the majority of their effort getting familiar with it.
Expect a high degree of negativity, procrastination and confusion. Your role in this is to micro manage ever step of the process. Focus on the process, not the people. Make adjustments to the process only where strictly necessary.
As uncomfortable as it may have been (and it ALWAYS uncomfortable or you’re not doing it right), round one brought familiarity with the process. The second time through finds the gang knowing the direction but trying to fully figure out their role in it. Or, more specifically, what they want their role to be in the process.
Never underestimate the willingness of individuals to drive toward what they want to do versus what they’re told to do. Observe the people with a magnifying glass and adjust roles accordingly.
Third time lucky
The process is now known. Good. The people who are riding the rails of the process have found their place. Even better. Familiarity kicks in.
The third time around is the first time the change starts to become habit for everyone involved. Participants will start to talk authoritatively on what needs to happen. From here forward you can make refinements and slowly start to retract from the management of the change, process and people and move on to changing the world.
Be the boss throughout. Don’t criticize or join in the negativity. Take the high ground, make it make positive sense for everyone involved.
Sitting on your ass doing nothing will result in nothing. Bring change. Feel uncomfortable. It is up to you and no-one else to make it work.
Either you’re kicking ass or you’re getting your ass kicked.
Either way, you’re doing something instead of just sitting on your butt watching the world go by. Action, whether positive or negative, is the only critical component to success.
Don’t talk. Don’t watch. Do it.
Email is a tool for conveyance of electronic data, not communication. Voices: they are for communication.
Don’t email. Instead pick up the phone or pull yourself up and walk to the person.
A conversation is worth a thousand emails.
Anything captured in electronic format is open and will be read by anyone.
The Powerpoint presentation deck will be seen by your competition.
The email you wrote to someone in confidence has at least been bcc’ed. Most likely forwarded with disclaimer “wasn’t me” preface.
The insider document, if it’s juicy enough, will make its way to wikileaks.org. If it’s not that interesting, expect most of the office will eventually get to read it.
Not one piece of this is bad.
Use it. Tell others what YOU want them to know. There are no electronic secrets.
Be genuine and you ALL of the time. Never lying means you don’t have to remember much.
Only dead fish go with the flow. Are you a dead fish?
What would make you come to life again?
1. Start with a plan. Make it up if you have to. Give yourself somewhere to go that only you believe in. Maybe others too. That’d be a bonus, but if you believe then they will.
2. Understand that sitting on your ass doing nothing will result in nothing. If you are comfortable with that then you are scared of being something. Anything. Making a mistake means you have done something. If someone points out that you’ve made a mistake; you’ve done something and someone else has noticed. Use it. And do more.
3. It isn’t going to happen tomorrow, however the more conviction you have, the less scared you are and the greater momentum you will build. It is a metaphorical snowball of building and leading. If you genuinely believe in your plan or vision – it makes it a lot easier for everyone around you to believe.
4. Cut your steak up. It’s a pretty darn big steak and you’re not going to eat it with one bite. Handle everything in small and achievable chunks that end. The whole steak will change shape as you eat it. Cut the next piece a different way then. You can. Just cut it though, don’t simply stare at it.
The only person you have to answer to is yourself. When you’re dead what exactly will be said at your funeral? Will anyone actually turn up for it? Will the people you know give an average speech? Maybe a cut ‘n paste job from the priest or Internet? Will your kids and spouse say just the right and safe and normal and expected things to say about you at a public gathering like that?
It’s too late for you to care at that point. Or, more importantly, do anything about having lived an average life. But so what?
Will they verbalize publicly on how much of a source of inspiration you were to them personally – would that mean something to how you lived today? How you altered the path of their lives because of the manner in which you bulldozed your way through everything that stood in the way of yours? Have them tell tens, hundreds or even thousands of people at their most grieving time that they are better because you lived. Really, fully lived. Like they wish they would themselves.
Or would it be the same speech as could be used to flush away a dead fish?
- Sideburns, December 1976
If someone wants to see an elephant, they will see an elephant.
When a person wants to do something, they will do it. Determination will make sure they don’t miss that episode of the show they love, the game they want to see or attend the conference they’ve had in their sights. The person has their heart set on seeing an elephant and they will travel, push, move other things around and make a path to the see the elephant.
The world the person was in before had elephants in it. Elephants were part of what was needed for success, so there were lots of elephants and lots of success. In the world they are in today, there are no elephants. Elephants are likely not needed either. However, the person wants to see an elephant in the picture as a path to success so they will find an elephant in the picture, even if it’s not there.
A person is asked to make a deliberation or give an opinion on something. They made their mind up days/weeks/months ago and no matter what has been presented to them since, their lens on this topic will remain unchanged. It is most often a negative view that is imposed. A beautiful puppy is in front of them, but they only see an elephant.
In each of the interpretations there are elephants. Don’t forget the elephants are there.
San Franciso’s Union Square in late 2006, just months before the world knew iPhone.