Tag Archives: change resistance

Change the World With a Keystone Change

Change the World With a Keystone Change

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

On December 31st, 1929, the Indian National Congress, the foremost nationalist group on the subcontinent, issued a Declaration of Purna Swaraj, or complete independence from British rule. It also announced a campaign of civil disobedience, but no one had any idea what form it should take. That task fell to Mohandas Gandhi.

The Mahatma returned to his ashram to contemplate next steps. After his efforts to organize against the Rowlatt Act a decade earlier ended in disaster, he struggled to find a way forward. As he told a friend at the time, “I am furiously thinking day and night and I do not see a way out of the darkness.”

Finally, he decided he would march for salt, which impressed almost no one. It seemed to be an incredibly inconsequential issue, especially considering what was at stake. Yet what few realized at the time was that he had identified a keystone change that would break the logjam and the British hold on power. Today the Salt March is known as Gandhi’s greatest triumph.

A Tangible And Achievable Goal

One of Gandhi’s biggest challenges was to connect the lofty goals and high-minded rhetoric of the elites who led the Indian National Congress with the concerns of everyday Indians. These destitute masses didn’t much care whether they were ruled by British elites or Indian elites and, to them, abstract concepts like “freedom” and “independence” meant little.

Salt, on the other hand, was something that was tangible for everyone, but especially for the poorest Indians and the British salt laws provided a clear and actionable target. All you had to do to defy them was to boil seawater to produce salt. What at first seemed trivial became a powerful call for mass action.

In my book, Cascades, I found that every successful movement for change, whether it was a corporate turnaround, a social initiative or a political uprising, began with a keystone change like Gandhi’s salt protests. To achieve a grand vision, you always have to start somewhere and the best place to begin is with a clear and achievable goal.

In some cases, as with voting rights in the women’s movement in the 19th century and, more recently, marriage equality for the LGBT movement, identifying a keystone change took decades. In other cases, such as improving worker safety in Paul O’Neil’s turnaround of Alcoa or a campaign to save 100,000 lives in Don Berwick’s quest to improve quality in medical care, the keystone change was part of the initial plan.

Involving Multiple Stakeholders

The concept of Indian independence raised a number of thorny issues, many of which have not been resolved to this day. Tensions between majority Hindus and minority Muslims created suspicions about how power would be structured after British rule. Similarly, coordinating action between caste Hindus and “untouchables” was riddled with difficulty. Christians and Sikhs had their own concerns.

Yet anger about the Salt Laws helped bring all of these disparate groups together. It was clear from the outset that everyone would benefit from a repeal. Also, because participating was easy—again, it was as simple as boiling sea water—little coordination was needed. Most of all, being involved in a collective effort helped to ease tensions somewhat.

Wyeth Pharmaceuticals took a similar approach to its quest to reduce costs by 25% through implementing lean manufacturing methods at its factories. Much like Gandhi, the executives understood that transforming the behaviors of 20,000 employees across 16 large facilities, most of whom were skeptical of the change, was no simple task.

So they started with one process — factory changeovers — and reduced the time it took to switch from producing one product to another in half. “That changed assumptions of what was possible,” an advisor that worked on the project told me. “It allowed us to implement metrics, improve collaboration and trained the supervisor to reimagine her perceived role from being a taskmaster that pushed people to work harder to a coach that enables improved performance.”

Breaking Through Higher Thresholds Of Resistance

By now most people are familiar with the diffusion of innovations theory developed by Everett Rogers. A new idea first gains traction among a small group of innovators and early adopters, then later spreads to the mainstream. Some have suggested that early adopters act as “influentials” or “opinion leaders” that spur an idea forward, but that is largely a myth.

What is much closer to the truth is that we all have different thresholds of resistance to a new idea and these thresholds are highly contextual. For example, as a Philadelphia native, I will enthusiastically try out a new cheesesteak place, but have kept the same hairstyle for 30 years. My wife, on the other hand, is much more adventurous with hairstyles than she is with cheesesteaks.

Yet we are all influenced by those around us. So if our friends and neighbors start raving about a cheesesteak, she might give it a try and may even tell people about it. Or, as network theory pioneer Duncan Watts explained to me, an idea propagates through “easily influenced people influencing other easily influenced people.”

That’s how transformative ideas gain momentum and it’s easy to see how a keystone change can help move the process along. By starting out with a tangible goal, such as protesting the salt tax or reducing changeover time at a single factory, you can focus your efforts on people who have lower thresholds of resistance and they, in turn, can help the idea spread to others who are more reticent.

Paving The Way For Future Change

Perhaps most importantly, a keystone change paves the way for larger changes later on. Gandhi’s Salt March showed that the British Raj could be defied. Voting rights for women and, later, blacks, allowed them to leverage their newfound power at the polls. Reducing changeover time showed how similar results could be achieved in other facets of manufacturing. The 100,000 lives campaign helped spur a a quality movement in healthcare.

None of these things happened all at once, but achieving a keystone change showed what was possible, attracted early adopters to the cause and helped give them a basis for convincing others that even more could be achieved. As one of Gandhi’s followers remarked, before the Salt March, the British “were all sahibs and we were obeying. No more after that.”

Another benefit of a keystone change is that it is much less likely to provoke a backlash than a wider, sweeping vision. One of the reasons that the Salt March was successful is that the British didn’t actually gain that much revenue from the tax on salt, so were slow to react to it. The 100,000 lives campaign involved only six relatively easy to implement procedures, rather than pushing hospitals to pursue wholesale change all at once.

So while it’s important to dream big and have lofty goals, the first step is always a keystone change. That’s how you first build a sense of shared purpose and provide a platform from which a movement for change can spread. Before the Salt March, Gandhi was considered by many to be a Hindu nationalist. It was only after that he truly became an inspiration to all Indian people and many others around the world.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog and previously appeared on Inc.com
— Image credits: Pexels

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Derision Means You’re Doing It Right

Derision Means You're Doing It Right

GUEST POST from Mike Shipulski

When you see good work, say so.

When you see exceptional work, say so in public.

When you’ve had good teachers, be thankful.

When you’ve had exceptional teachers, send them a text because texts are personal.

When you do great work and no one acknowledges it, take some time to feel the pain and get back to work.

When you do great work and no one acknowledges it, take more time to feel the pain and get back to work.

When you’ve done great work, tell your family.

When you’ve done exceptional work, tell them twice.

When you do the work no one is asking for, remember your time horizon is longer than theirs.

When you do the work that threatens the successful business model, despite the anguish it creates, keep going.

When they’re not telling you to stop, try harder.

When they’re telling you to stop it’s because your work threatens. Stomp on the accelerator.

When you can’t do a project because the ROI is insufficient, that’s fine.

When no one can calculate an ROI because no one can imagine a return, that’s better.

When you give a little ground on what worked, you can improve other dimensions of goodness.

When you outlaw what worked, you can create new market segments.

When everyone understands why you’re doing it, your work may lead to something good.

When no one understands why you’re doing it, your work may reinvent the industry.

When you do new work, don’t listen to the critics. Do it despite them.

When you do work that threatens, you will be misunderstood. That’s a sign you’re on to something.

When you want credit for the work, you can’t do amazing work.

When you don’t need credit for the work, it opens up design space where the amazing work lives.

When your work makes waves, that’s nice.

When your work creates a tsunami, that’s better.

When you’re willing to forget what got you here, you can create what could be.

When you’re willing to disrespect what got you here, you can create what couldn’t be.

When your work is ignored, at least you’re doing something different.

When you and your work are derided, you’re doing it right.

Image credit: Pexels

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Resistance to Innovation – What if electric cars came first?

Resistance to Innovation - What if electric cars came first?

GUEST POST from Dennis Stauffer

In his acclaimed book the The Diffusion of Innovations—the most-cited work in all the social sciences—Everett Rogers explained how innovations frequently meet resistance. Resistance that isn’t always rational. How all-too-often we’re willing to accept the status quo despite its flaws and reject new options despite their benefits.

We’re seeing exactly this phenomenon with electric vehicles. Demand from what Rogers identified as the early adopters—wealthy buyers who can pay a premium for the newest technology—has largely been met. The challenge now is to reach a broader market of buyers with more practical concerns about cost, range, reliability, and safety. News articles and commentary are popping up noting those concerns and expressing doubts about just how useful electric cars really are. The lack of charging stations, the environmental impact of mining lithium, the danger of battery fires, and potential strains to the electrical grid. There are some legitimate concerns, but how much of that skepticism is grounded in the reality of electrification and how much is good old-fashioned resistance to change?

To answer that question, let’s turn the tables. What if electric cars came first, and we’re trying to introduce internal combustion engines? Here are some predictable—and quite similar—objections.

  • How can we possibly build all the gas stations we’re going to need, and should we? (If electrification is the entrenched technology, we’d have plenty of charging stations everywhere.)
  • Do you really want trucks carrying 10,000 gallons of highly explosive gasoline driving down the highway next to you? Accidents happen! Do you want 20 gallons of it parked in your garage, waiting for just one spark to set it off—taking your house with it?
  • You can charge your electric car at home while you sleep, or at a charging station while at work. You can’t do that with a gasoline engine. You must go somewhere to buy gas, take time to get there, and then stand next to a hose pumping one of the most flammable liquids we know of.
  • We’re going to need a lot of that gasoline. Where will we find it, and at what environmental cost? Are we going to start drilling everywhere? Even in the ocean, the arctic, and in fragile ecosystems?  Are we going to have massive tankers crisscrossing the oceans? What if there’s a leak or a spill?
  • How are we going to build all the refining capacity we’ll need to process and transport all that gas? That’s a massive investment. Who’s going to pay for it?
  • What if we need to get that gas from countries that don’t like us? Will they refuse to sell to us or charge exorbitant prices? Will we make our enemies rich?
  • Gasoline is more expensive per mile driven than electricity, and because it’s a commodity, its price fluctuates—sometimes a lot. You never know what you may have to pay.
  • Gasoline engines are a lot more expensive than electric motors. They’re much more complex and since we’re building them in smaller numbers at first, carmakers don’t have the same economies of scale.
  • Internal combustion engines are more complex to repair. How often will your car need to be fixed? Will your mechanic know how?
  • What about air pollution? Just one internal combustion car emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. Multiply that by all the cars on the road!
  • Would you like a car that’s slower? The most powerful—and most expensive—internal combustion cars on the road have less torque than a typical electric vehicle. That means less acceleration when you need to pass someone.

Some of these concerns are a bit overblown — just like some of the concerns about electric cars. But others are entirely valid. Yet too often we shrug them off because we’ve already accepted those costs, inconveniences, and dangers.

What we’re seeing with electric cars is the same progression we saw with early automobiles, airplanes, hybrid crops, personal computers, and many other now widely popular innovations. We’ll get there, but not without some pushback.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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How to Defeat Corporate Antibodies

A Guide to Beating Resistance

How to Defeat Corporate Antibodies

GUEST POST from Stefan Lindegaard

Imagine yourself as the CEO of a mid-sized organization that’s struggling to grow and adapt to the ever-changing business landscape. You decide that it’s time for a significant transformation, which will involve new partnerships, revamped processes, and a shift in the company’s culture.

Despite the potential benefits, the proposed changes are met with strong resistance from within the organization. Corporate antibodies, individuals who fight against innovation and maintain the status quo, are now the biggest challenge to overcome.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through a story that illustrates the impact of corporate antibodies on organizational development and explores the role of organizational culture, leadership, and employee engagement in fostering a supportive environment for change.

A Tale of Two Teams

In our fictional organization, there are two departments that perfectly illustrate the impact of corporate antibodies on organizational development: the marketing team, led by an open-minded and forward-thinking manager named Susan, and the finance department, led by a risk-averse and conservative manager named Mark.

Susan’s marketing team is known for embracing new ideas and encouraging collaboration. She has created a culture where employees are motivated to share ideas, challenge assumptions, and learn from failures. On the other hand, Mark’s finance team resists any proposed changes and defends the status quo. Mark is wary of any initiatives that could disrupt the stability of his department and is often skeptical of suggestions coming from outside his team.

The Power of Culture

One day, during a company-wide meeting, the CEO announces a new partnership with a cutting-edge technology company to streamline processes, reduce costs, and drive innovation across the organization.

Susan’s marketing team quickly embraces the idea, eager to explore the opportunities this partnership could bring. They begin brainstorming ways to integrate the new technology into their work and share their ideas with other teams.

In contrast, Mark’s finance team reacts with apprehension and skepticism. They question the need for such a drastic change and raise concerns about potential disruptions to their well-established processes. Mark himself is hesitant to support the initiative, fearing that it might expose weaknesses within his department and lead to a loss of control.

Detecting Corporate Antibodies

The stark difference between the two teams becomes apparent during meetings and discussions about the upcoming transformation. The finance team, led by Mark, expresses their resistance through statements like:

  • “We already tried something similar, and it didn’t work.”
  • “Our current process has worked fine for years; there’s no need to change.”
  • “If that were a good idea, we’d already have thought of it.”

Some individuals in the finance team genuinely believe they’re looking out for the company’s best interests, while others prioritize their personal interests or fear the potential consequences of change.

The Battle Begins

As the transformation moves into the incubation phase, the tensions between the two teams escalate. Susan’s marketing team starts working closely with the new technology partner, sharing their progress and achievements with the rest of the organization. They demonstrate the positive impact of the change initiative and inspire other departments to get on board.

Meanwhile, Mark’s finance team continues to resist the change, erecting roadblocks and questioning every decision made by the marketing team and the technology partner. Their relentless negativity creates a tense atmosphere and slows down the progress of the transformation.

The Turning Point

As the organization enters the Acceleration stage, the CEO recognizes the need to address the corporate antibodies that are hindering the company’s growth. She decides to implement the following strategies to manage resistance and foster a more supportive environment for change:

  1. Engage potential blockers: The CEO invites Mark and key members of his finance team to participate in decision-making processes, ensuring they feel valued and included. By involving them in shaping the transformation, she gradually turns some of the blockers into backers.
  2. Encourage open communication: The CEO fosters a culture where employees can voice their concerns and suggestions without fear of backlash. This allows the organization to identify and address potential issues early on, reducing the likelihood of resistance emerging later in the process.
  3. Provide support and resources: The CEO allocates resources to offer training and support to employees who need help navigating the change process. This alleviates anxieties and creates a more positive attitude towards the change initiatives.
  4. Celebrate successes: The CEO acknowledges the achievements of Susan’s marketing team and other departments that have embraced the change. Recognizing progress and milestones helps maintain morale and motivation while demonstrating the benefits of the transformation.
  5. Foster collaboration across departments: The CEO organizes cross-functional workshops and team-building activities that encourage employees from different departments to work together. This helps break down silos and promotes a greater understanding of the benefits of the change initiative across the organization.
  6. Appoint change champions: The CEO identifies key influencers within the organization who can help advocate for the change and address concerns from their peers. These change champions play a critical role in maintaining momentum and enthusiasm for the transformation.
  7. Establish a feedback loop: The CEO implements a system for collecting regular feedback from employees about the progress of the transformation. This allows the leadership team to monitor the effectiveness of their strategies, make necessary adjustments, and address any emerging concerns promptly.

With these additional strategies in place, the organization begins to witness significant progress in its transformation journey. The impact of the corporate antibodies is gradually diminished, and a culture of innovation and adaptability starts to flourish.

Monitoring Progress and Ensuring Long-term Success

The CEO understands the importance of monitoring progress and adjusting strategies as needed to ensure the long-term success of the transformation. To do this, she establishes a set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that help track the progress of the change initiatives and their impact on the organization. These KPIs may include employee engagement, cross-functional collaboration, efficiency gains, and financial performance.

Additionally, the CEO remains vigilant for signs of lingering resistance or the re-emergence of corporate antibodies. By maintaining open lines of communication and actively soliciting feedback from employees, she can quickly identify and address any issues that might hinder the organization’s development.

The conclusion is that identifying and tackling corporate antibodies is essential for successful organizational growth and transformation. By understanding the reasons behind their emergence and applying effective strategies to manage them, organizations can build a positive environment for change and promote long-lasting progress.

Emphasizing a strong organizational culture, good leadership, and employee engagement can help ensure your organization’s development efforts succeed, leading to a more resilient and adaptable business in a constantly changing world.

Image Credit: Stefan Lindegaard

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Kickstart Change with Reclaimed Focus and Attention

Kickstart Change with Reclaimed Focus and Attention

GUEST POST from Janet Sernack

In 2019 we experienced the shock and the pain that resulted from the globally disruptive global Covid 19 pandemic. To both survive and thrive in the new decade of uncertainty, many people still need help and guidance to connect to, understand and manage their anxieties, fears, inertia, and confusion about the future to effectively ride the waves of disruptive change. Yet, according to Johann Hari, in his best-selling book – Stolen Focus, all over the world, our focus and attention have been stolen, and our ability to pay attention is collapsing, and we need to be intentional in reclaiming it.

He describes the wide range of consequences this has on our lives, which are further impacted by pervasive and addicting technology we are being forced to use in our virtual world, exasperated by the pandemic and the need to work virtually, from home. He reveals how our dwindling attention spans predate the internet, and how its decline is accelerating at an alarming rate.

He suggests that if we want to get back our ability to focus, stop multitasking and practice paying attention. Also, if we want to kickstart change and help people feel confident in their readiness, competence, and capacity to change and innovate in a world of unknowns, it all starts with improving our ability to pay deep attention to what is really going on.

Yet, in the thesaurus there are 286 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to paying attention, such as: listen, and giving heed, so what might be the key first steps to take in reclaiming your focus and attention?

Power of focus and attention

  • Energy flows where attention goes

Placing our focus and attention activates our energy, and our energy flows where our attention goes.

So, if you have been feeling tired and lethargic, or overwhelmed and burned out, then take a moment to consider how you might score yourself on an attentive-distractive continuum and consider how similar, or different you are to US college students who can now focus on one task for only 65 seconds, and where office workers on average manage only three minutes?

  • Being intentional

Involves getting clear upfront about what you want to achieve, by setting an intention to achieve a specific outcome or result in the future that is important to you.  In a world of unknowns, paying deep attention and being intentional are the key foundations for recovery, rebalance, and transformation.

Limiting ways of seeing, being, and acting in the world  

Many people are still experiencing unconscious intrinsic, or reactive responses to their pandemic-induced work situations and are suffering from stress overload, overwhelm, and burnout.

This is because our autonomic nervous systems, which control our cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, urinary, and reproductive functions, and responses to stress, operate outside of our conscious control in two different and co-dependent and often competing systems.

  • Parasympathetic fight or flight system

Put very simply, our sympathetic nervous systems get overloaded by heightened stress levels, which ignite our protective fight or flight system, which normally allows our bodies to function under stress and danger, and, as a result, impacts significantly on our levels of tiredness, exhaustion, and burnt-out emotional, mental and physical states.  This exasperates our inherent, unconscious needs to self-preserve (gut), feelings of isolation and loneliness (heat), and having the limited presence of mind (head) and reverts many of us into survival mode, and shift out of alignment, where we become physiologically incoherent (out of balance).

Which is not conducive to knowing and activating what we can truly, really, and actually influence and control in our lives, which requires us to effectively balance chaos with order.

  • Reduced capacity

When operating in survival mode, we are unable (like the US College students) to take the sacred pauses we need to make the space to attend and observe, through retreat, and reflection.

We are no longer able to access our inner knowing, play in the space of possibility, create a normalized state of equilibrium and calm, and be coherent and congruent in our daily lives.

Our overall capacity to set clear goals, make smart decisions, creatively solve problems, courageously take the right actions, harness our intuition, compassionately cultivate understanding and perception, develop good relationships, learn and develop, and finally, our health and well-being, are significantly reduced.

Initiate reclaiming focus and attention

Because we don’t know if companies will ever return to their pre-pandemic-like worlds, and become future-fit, people need to be reskilled in how to focus, how to observe, how to deeply focus and attend, and how to be intentional.

Developing daily habits to be focused and productive

  1. Being intentional about breathing

 To help balance and initiate harmonizing our autonomic nervous systems, develop physiological coherence, to respond optimally to the world, starts with developing focus and attention on your breath.

Doing this helps your neurology to relax, reduce stress and anxiety, increase calmness, and reconnect to the self.

Sounds simple, yet in my global coaching practice, clients would often turn up feeling overwhelmed and incoherent, so we would begin the session with a “box breathing” exercise. This involves breathing while you slowly count to four for a total of four times – four counts of breathing in, four counts of holding your breath, four counts of exhaling, and four more counts of holding after your exhale. We could both be grounded, and coherent, to partner and connect in high-impact and productive sessions.

  1. Being intentional in stepping away from your screens

According to one 2019 survey of 1,057 U.S. office workers, 87 percent of professionals spend most of their workday staring at screens: an average of seven hours a day. Closing your laptop and taking a quick walk outside, in nature allows your brain to recharge for your next task, and enables your autonomic nervous system to take a well-deserved break and calm down.

Sounds simple, yet in my global coaching practice, clients found this very difficult to do, this might involve no TV screens in bedrooms, leaving phones outside bedrooms, turning phones off at 8.00 pm, buying an alarm clock, setting and sticking to a dedicated start and finish work times, taking regular lunch breaks outside in nature and coffee breaks with friends. Be playful and allow your mind to enjoy wandering into wondering.

  1. Working in focused intervals

A recent article in Inc stated that –  “In addition to the seven or eight hours of adequate sleep that so many entrepreneurs and CEOs neglect, taking smart breaks during your workday, and having longer periods of downtime are keys to being more productive”.

Sounds simple, again in my global coaching practice I had to negotiate with clients to be intentionally disciplined and methodical in planning their days, weeks, and months. This involved scheduling time to initiate or sustain a mindfulness or meditation practice, engage in a regular exercise program, go shopping to buy and eat healthy foods (eliminating desk-side snacks), being clear on key deliverables and breaking down key tasks into bite-size bits, and saying no to meetings that don’t contribute towards achieving these.

When we change the way we attend, a different world can come forth, for ourselves, others we are interacting with, and the environment we are operating within. When we know how to really, truly, and deeply attend, and observe, we can go to our place of deeper knowing, rethink and then act swiftly and inflow to effect the transformational breakthroughs that change the world as we know it.

Find out more about our work at ImagineNation™

Find out about our collective, learning products and tools, including The Coach for Innovators, Leaders, and Teams Certified Program, presented by Janet Sernack, is a collaborative, intimate, and deeply personalized innovation coaching and learning program, supported by a global group of peers over 9-weeks, which can be customized as a bespoke corporate learning program.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of November 2022

Top 10 Human-Centered Change & Innovation Articles of November 2022Drum roll please…

At the beginning of each month, we will profile the ten articles from the previous month that generated the most traffic to Human-Centered Change & Innovation. Did your favorite make the cut?

But enough delay, here are November’s ten most popular innovation posts:

  1. Human-Centered Design and Innovation — by Braden Kelley
  2. Four Ways to Overcome Resistance to Change — by Greg Satell
  3. What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do — by Mike Shipulski
  4. 5 Simple Steps for Launching Game-Changing New Products — by Teresa Spangler
  5. Why Small Teams Kick Ass — by Mike Shipulski
  6. Crabby Innovation Opportunity — by Braden Kelley
  7. Music Can Make You a More Effective Leader — by Shep Hyken
  8. Lobsters and the Wisdom of Ignoring Your Customers — by Robyn Bolton
  9. Asking the Wrong Questions Gets You the Wrong Answers — by Greg Satell
  10. Brewing a Better Customer Experience — by Braden Kelley

BONUS – Here are five more strong articles published in October that continue to resonate with people:

If you’re not familiar with Human-Centered Change & Innovation, we publish 4-7 new articles every week built around innovation and transformation insights from our roster of contributing authors and ad hoc submissions from community members. Get the articles right in your Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin feeds too!

Have something to contribute?

Human-Centered Change & Innovation is open to contributions from any and all innovation and transformation professionals out there (practitioners, professors, researchers, consultants, authors, etc.) who have valuable human-centered change and innovation insights to share with everyone for the greater good. If you’d like to contribute, please contact me.

P.S. Here are our Top 40 Innovation Bloggers lists from the last two years:

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Four Ways to Overcome Resistance to Change

Four Ways to Overcome Resistance to Change

GUEST POST from Greg Satell

Why are organizations so resistant to change? Many point to a corporate immune system or to organizational antibodies that instantly attack change. The idea is that leaders prefer stability to disruption and put systems in place to reduce variance. These systems will instantly seek out and destroy anyone who tries to do anything different.

This is a dangerously misleading notion. There is no such thing as a corporate immune system. In fact, most senior executives are not only in favor of change, they see themselves as leading it! However, while most people are enthusiastic about change as a general concept, they are suspicious of it in the particular.

The truth is that is if the change you seek has the potential to be truly impactful, there are always going to be people affected who aren’t going to like it. They will seek to undermine it, often in very dishonest ways. That’s just a fact of life that you need to accept. Yet history clearly shows that, with a smart strategy, even the most ardent opposition can be overcome.

1. Ignore The Opposition — At First

The first principle for overcoming resistance is to understand that there is no reason you need to immediately engage with your active opposition. In fact, it’s something you should do your best to avoid in the early stages when your idea is still untried, unproven and vulnerable.

All too often, change initiatives start with a big kickoff meeting and communication campaign. That’s almost always a mistake. In every organization, there are different levels of enthusiasm to change. Some will be ready to jump on board, but others will be vehemently opposed. For whatever reason, they see this particular idea as a threat.

By seeking to bring in everybody at once, you are very likely to end up spending a lot of time and energy trying to persuade people who don’t want to be persuaded. The truth is that in the beginning your idea is the weakest it’s ever going to be. So there’s no reason to waste your time with people who aren’t open to it.

If you find yourself struggling to convince people, you either have the wrong change or the wrong people. So at first, seek out people who are already enthusiastic about your vision for change and want it to succeed.

2. Identify Your Apostles

In retrospect, transformations often seem inevitable, even obvious. Yet they don’t start out that way. The truth is that it is small groups, loosely connected, but united by a common purpose that drives transformation. So, the first thing you want to do is identify your apostles—people who are already excited about the possibilities for change.

For example, in his efforts to reform the Pentagon, Colonel John Boyd began every initiative by briefing a group of collaborators called the “Acolytes,” who would help hone and sharpen the ideas. He then moved on to congressional staffers, elected officials and the media. By the time general officers were aware of what he was doing, he had too much support to ignore.

In a similar vein, a massive effort to implement lean manufacturing methods at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals began with one team at one factory, but grew to encompass 17,000 employees across 25 sites worldwide and cut manufacturing costs by 25%. The campaign that overthrew Serbian dictator Slobodan Milošević started with just 5 kids in a coffee shop.

One advantage to starting small is that you can identify your apostles informally, even through casual conversations. In skills-based transformations, change leaders often start with workshops and see who seems enthusiastic or comes up after the session. Your apostles don’t need to have senior positions or special skills, they just have to be passionate.

3. Shift from Differentiating Values to Shared Values

People feel passionately about things that are different. That’s why the first product that Steve Jobs launched after he returned to Apple was the iMac. It wasn’t a very good computer, but its bright colors were designed to appeal to Apple’s passionate fan base, as was the “Think Different” ad campaign launched around the same time.

Yet if all Steve Jobs had to rely on was difference, Apple would have never grown beyond its most ardent fans and become the most valuable company in the world. It was the company’s growing reputation for high quality and smart features that brought in new customers. True change is always built on common ground.

One of the biggest challenges in driving transformation is that while differentiating values make people excited about an idea, it is shared values that help grow a movement. That doesn’t mean you’re abandoning or watering down your principles. It just means that you need to meet people where they are, not where you wish them to be.

For example, the Agile Manifesto has inspired fierce devotion among its adherents. Yet for those outside the Agile development community, its principles can seem weird and impractical. If you want to bring new people, it’s better to focus on shared values, such as the ability to produce better quality projects on time and on budget.

4. Create and Build on Meaningful Success

The reason people resist change is that they have a certain level of comfort with the status quo. Change forces us to grapple with the unfamiliar, which is always uncomfortable. There are also switching costs involved. So, if you want your change to take hold, at some point you are going to have to prove you can get results.

One great example is the PxG initiative at Procter & Gamble. It got started when three mid-level executives decided that they could dramatically improve a process. They didn’t try to convince anybody or ask for permission but were able to reduce the time it took from weeks down to hours. That started a movement within the company that has attracted thousands.

When Experian CIO Barry Libenson started a cloud transformation at his company, he didn’t force anybody to go along. Instead, he focused on helping product managers who wanted to build successful cloud projects. As they began to show concrete business results, the pressure for others to get with the program increased.

Perhaps most of all, you need to accept that resistance is part of change and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, skeptics can often point out important flaws in your idea and make it stronger. The difference between successful revolutionaries and mere dreamers is that those who succeed anticipate resistance and build a plan to overcome it.

— Article courtesy of the Digital Tonto blog
— Image credit: Pixabay

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Overcoming Resistance to Change in Designing for Disruption

Effective change management strategies to address resistance and encourage adoption of disruptive ideas

Overcoming Resistance to Change in Designing for Disruption

GUEST POST from Art Inteligencia

In today’s fast-paced business environment, organizations that fail to adapt to change risk falling behind the competition. Designing for disruption requires a forward-thinking approach that challenges the status quo and embraces innovative ideas. However, implementing disruptive strategies can often be met with resistance from employees who are comfortable with the way things have always been done. In this thought leadership article, we will explore effective change management strategies to address resistance and encourage adoption of disruptive ideas, using two case studies to illustrate how organizations can successfully navigate the challenges of change.

Case Study 1: Uber

One of the most disruptive companies in recent years, Uber revolutionized the transportation industry by introducing a technology-driven platform that connects riders with drivers. However, implementing this disruptive idea was not without its challenges. Taxi drivers and traditional transportation companies vehemently opposed Uber’s entry into the market, leading to regulatory battles and public protests.

To overcome resistance, Uber employed effective change management strategies that focused on communication, collaboration, and empathy. The company engaged in open dialogue with stakeholders, including government officials, to address concerns and find common ground. Uber also invested in training programs to educate drivers on the benefits of the platform and provided support to help them adapt to the changing landscape.

By taking a proactive approach to managing resistance, Uber was able to successfully navigate the challenges of change and establish itself as a disruptor in the transportation industry.

Case Study 2: Airbnb

Another example of a disruptive company, Airbnb transformed the hospitality industry by offering homeowners the opportunity to rent out their properties to travelers. Despite its innovative business model, Airbnb faced resistance from traditional hotels and regulatory agencies that viewed the company as a threat to their business.

To address resistance, Airbnb implemented a series of change management strategies that focused on education, transparency, and collaboration. The company launched a public relations campaign to educate the public about the benefits of the sharing economy and worked with regulators to create policies that balanced the needs of both hosts and guests.

By building relationships with stakeholders and demonstrating the value of its platform, Airbnb was able to overcome resistance and establish itself as a disruptor in the hospitality industry.

Conclusion

Designing for disruption requires a proactive approach to managing resistance and encouraging adoption of innovative ideas. By implementing effective change management strategies, companies can address concerns, build trust, and inspire employees to embrace change. Through open communication, collaboration, and empathy, organizations can successfully navigate the challenges of disruption and position themselves as industry leaders. As Uber and Airbnb have demonstrated, overcoming resistance is possible with the right approach and a commitment to driving positive change. By adopting these strategies, organizations can design for disruption and thrive in an ever-changing business landscape.

Bottom line: Futurists are not fortune tellers. They use a formal approach to achieve their outcomes, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to be their own futurist.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Overcoming Resistance to Change

Embracing Innovation at Every Level

Overcoming Resistance to Change

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, embracing innovation is no longer a choice; it’s a necessity. Organizations that resist change risk becoming stagnant, losing their competitive edge, and failing to meet the ever-changing needs of their customers. However, implementing change is often met with resistance from employees at all levels. This article explores the importance of overcoming resistance to change and provides two case studies that highlight successful examples of organizations that embraced innovation.

Case Study 1: Netflix’s Transformation from DVD Rental to Streaming Powerhouse

Netflix is a prime example of a company that transformed its business model to stay relevant in an ever-changing industry. In the late 90s and early 2000s, Netflix was primarily known as a DVD rental-by-mail service. However, with the rise of digital media and streaming platforms, Netflix recognized the need to evolve.

The executives at Netflix embraced the challenging task of shifting their focus from physical DVDs to online streaming. This transition required a complete overhaul of their infrastructure, as well as a mindset shift throughout the entire organization. However, they faced resistance from employees who were comfortable with the existing business model.

To overcome this resistance to change, Netflix’s leadership implemented several strategies. First, they communicated the urgency and importance of embracing digital innovation, emphasizing that failure to do so could result in the company’s demise. They also invested in employees’ professional development, providing training and education to ensure everyone had the necessary skills to adapt to the digital landscape.

By involving employees at every level in the transformation process, Netflix successfully overcame resistance to change. Today, the company is a global streaming powerhouse, providing on-demand entertainment to millions of subscribers worldwide.

Case Study 2: The Agile Transformation of Spotify

Spotify, the popular music streaming platform, faced its own challenges when trying to innovate and scale rapidly. Like many companies, they experienced difficulties with hierarchical structures and bureaucracy that hindered innovation and agility.

To address these challenges, Spotify undertook an innovative organizational transformation, adopting the agile methodology. This shift involved breaking down traditional functional silos and organizing teams into small, cross-functional units called “squads.” Each squad was responsible for a specific area of the product, encouraging collaboration and rapid decision-making.

Leadership at Spotify knew that overcoming resistance to change required a bottoms-up approach. They empowered employees to experiment, take ownership, and challenge existing ways of doing things. This not only fostered a culture of innovation but also gave individuals a sense of autonomy and purpose, leading to higher motivation and productivity.

By embracing the values of the agile methodology, Spotify transformed its entire organization, unlocking unprecedented innovation and adaptability. Today, it remains a global leader in the music streaming industry, continuously evolving to meet the demands of its users.

Conclusion

Change and innovation are essential for organizational growth and success in today’s dynamic environment. However, organizations must also recognize and address the resistance that accompanies these shifts. By involving employees at every level, providing training and support, and fostering a culture of ownership and autonomy, organizations can successfully overcome resistance to change. The case studies of Netflix and Spotify demonstrate the power of embracing innovation, transforming organizations, and remaining agile in the face of constant change.

Bottom line: Futurology is not fortune telling. Futurists use a scientific approach to create their deliverables, but a methodology and tools like those in FutureHacking™ can empower anyone to engage in futurology themselves.

Image credit: Pixabay

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Change Resistance: Addressing Common Barriers and Overcoming Employee Pushback

Change Resistance: Addressing Common Barriers and Overcoming Employee Pushback

GUEST POST from Chateau G Pato

In today’s dynamically evolving business landscape, organizations are faced with a constant need to adapt and embrace change in order to stay competitive. However, change initiatives often encounter resistance from employees, leading to delays and potentially derailing the desired outcomes. Understanding the common barriers to change and implementing strategies to address them is essential for effective change management. This article explores two case studies that illustrate how organizations successfully overcame employee pushback during transformative change endeavors.

Case Study 1: Implementing a New Performance Management System

Company X, a global technology firm, decided to revamp its performance management system to align with their updated business objectives. The organization aimed to encourage a culture of regular feedback and continuous improvement. Recognizing the resistance that the change might evoke, the management team took proactive steps to minimize employee pushback.

Firstly, the company ensured transparency and clarity by communicating the rationale behind the change. They conducted workshops and town hall meetings to explain how the new system would help employees grow professionally and benefit the organization as a whole. This transparent approach enabled employees to grasp the purpose of the change, which reduced uncertainty and resistance.

Secondly, they involved employees in the process by inviting feedback and suggestions. By incorporating their input, the organization demonstrated a genuine commitment to engaging employees and valuing their opinions. This inclusive strategy not only addressed employee concerns but also fostered a sense of ownership among employees, leading to higher acceptance of the new system.

Lastly, the company offered comprehensive training programs to help employees adapt to the change successfully. By providing resources and support, the organization minimized the fear of the unknown and empowered employees to embrace the new performance management system confidently. Regular check-ins and support forums were also established to provide ongoing assistance.

The combined efforts resulted in a smooth transition with minimal resistance. Employees gradually recognized the benefits of the new system, such as increased collaboration and individual growth opportunities. The successful implementation demonstrated that addressing common barriers and involving employees can drive positive change outcomes.

Case Study 2: Shifting to Remote Work during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Organization Y, a mid-sized consulting firm, faced the daunting challenge of transitioning its workforce to remote work amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. While the magnitude of the global crisis was beyond anyone’s control, the management team anticipated the potential resistance from employees during such a sudden transformation.

To overcome employee pushback, the company took proactive measures to support its employees’ transition to remote work. The first step was to ensure open and transparent communication channels. Frequent virtual meetings were conducted to address concerns, provide updates, and clarify expectations. This continuous dialogue improved employee morale and reduced anxiety about the uncertainties associated with remote work.

Understanding that remote work would alter the dynamics of collaboration, the organization invested in collaborative tools and technologies. Platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom were introduced to facilitate seamless virtual communication, ensuring effective teamwork and maintaining a sense of connection among employees.

To combat the potential feelings of isolation, the company also organized virtual team-building events, such as online happy hours and game nights. These activities helped foster a sense of camaraderie and provided an emotional support system during a challenging time.

Through these efforts, Organization Y successfully minimized employee resistance and maintained productivity during the transition to remote work. The crisis ultimately pushed the organization to adopt more flexible work practices, resulting in increased employee satisfaction and reduced operational costs.

Conclusion

Change resistance is an inevitable component of any transformative journey, but it does not have to hinder progress. By acknowledging common barriers, understanding employee concerns, and implementing strategies like transparent communication, employee involvement, and ongoing support, organizations can successfully overcome pushback. The case studies of Company X and Organization Y demonstrate that addressing resistance can lead to positive change outcomes and foster a resilient organizational culture capable of embracing future transformations.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Braden Kelley’s Problem Finding Canvas can be a super useful starting point for doing design thinking or human-centered design.

“The Problem Finding Canvas should help you investigate a handful of areas to explore, choose the one most important to you, extract all of the potential challenges and opportunities and choose one to prioritize.”

Image credit: Unsplash

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