In my last posting, I told you that Bruce would have a follow-up on getting buy-in for change and here it is.
Getting By-In for a Change
Sometimes getting the necessary buy-in for the changes you want to make can be a difficult process but, not impossible. In the TOC Applied Systems Thinking course (Jonah Course) there is a segment (module) dedicated to this process which provides some useful guidelines to implement change.
In general, some people tend to resist someone else’s ideas for change. It falls under the “not invented here syndrome” and can, at times, be troublesome to overcome. However, there is also some simple and powerful psychology involved and if you understand that:
1. Some people have a very powerful intuition in areas where they have experience.
2. Some people don’t recognize the need for change.
3. Some people don’t always understand what needs to be changed or why.
4. Most people want to feel comfortable that the change is likely to succeed.
5. Most people want to understand how any change will impact them.
If you take the approach of just presenting “your idea” it will be a challenging effort to succeed. However, if you ask for and accept input(s) from others, your ideas will have a much greater probability of success. If you allow other people to modify or even criticize the solution, then ask them to help make the corrections. In others words, ask them “What would you do different?” Always assume the other person has a good point, even if they have not presented it well. Listen first to understand what the person means, and not just what they are saying. And by ALL means never make the other person look bad. You need to always show how the solution leads to their benefits, and addresses their problems. If you give them the opportunity to help design the solution the chances of their buy-in will be almost 100%.
While some people will resist change, in most cases there is at least one person who does not resist; the person who invented the idea. First, and foremost, you want to seek to create ownership of the idea(s) that you want to see implemented. It is not uncommon that the emotion of the idea’s inventor will provide a very powerful platform to guide other people’s energy toward supporting an idea. By allowing other people to modify your ideas, you create a situation where the solution(s) can become other people’s idea(s), and not just yours. In essence, you have enacted the “Socratic method” that allows others to participate. What is very important at this stage is, don’t rush to reveal your answer, always allow the person time to digest your ideas and reach the same conclusions on their own. When the “new” idea becomes “their” idea you have successfully used the Socratic Method to create the necessary ownership. When other people own the idea (solution) they will most likely make it happen in short order.
Logic can be one of the most powerful tools we use to gain a consensus for ideas. Logic, both necessity and sufficiency, can be used to show how something systematically will help to solve a problem, reach an objective, or overcome an obstacle. As powerful as logic is, emotions are even more powerful. When provoked and pushed to the limits, emotional resistance will block even the most solid logic. Emotional Resistance to a good idea can come in many forms but, the two most prevalent are:
1. Showing the person responsible he is wrong. (making him or her look bad)
3. Let it be the others person’s idea … it’s OK!
The scenario that you really want to end up with is a situation where you can help others to recognize the existence of the problem and/or the need to change. The starting position CANNOT be one of “you” against “them”, but rather strive for a position of “you” and “them” against the problem – not against each other. If you approach it in this manner, you will enable others to see a way out of the problem or a solution for the problem. A solution developed, with others, is a solution that leads to everyone’s benefits, in essence, the WIN-WIN. Remember: there is no useful solution except for the WIN-WIN. Anything else is just a win-lose.
In your desire to implement change you will likely encounter some other categories of people. Through time we have narrowed these down to three (3) categories. These categories are not based on job functions or organizational titles. These categories of people can exist anywhere up and down the organizational chain. It is highly probable that once you understand these categories, you will know instantly when you run into one of them.
The three categories are:
1. Directly Responsible Person (DRP)
The IIP clearly understands the environment where change is needed. It is possible this person is the next level up in the organizational chain. It is also possible that they exist in areas outside of the organization. If correctly situated in the organization the IIP can be very important for gaining consensus for your new ideas and change. They are a great person to have on your team.
The outside person is usually totally unconcerned/unaware of Undesirable Effects (UDEs) that exist. They usually sit at the higher level of the organization structure and perhaps even at a Corporate level. They are for the most part disconnected with the realities of the lower organizational structure. The connection between necessary actions and the implied benefits usually isn’t obvious to them. However, it is highly probable that you will need their cooperation for the intended solution.