Change Perspectives & Dissolve Resistance

In my Change Agent Essentials classes I’m often asked how to quickly eliminate people’s resistance to change.  Here’s the simple method I offer, after making sure the person asking first clearly understands the importance of driving change not driving people.

I call this method 5 Steps to Change Perspectives & Dissolve Resistance.

Step 1: Invite all the people affected by the change, or representatives of all the people, to a meeting place (virtual or physical).

Step 2: Create four categories of input, typically represented as a 2×2 matrix.  The categories are Positive Effects of the Change, Negative Effects of the Change, Positive Effects of Not Changing, Negative Effects of Not Changing.

Step 3: Give everyone sticky notes or their own separate electronic space to write their thoughts.  Then ask everyone to silently and independently write the affects from their perspective for each of the categories.  They can have many affects associated with each or none for some of the categories.

Step 4: Have everyone post their affects onto a common board.

Step 5: Those who want to remain and work towards a win-win solution for all are asked to stay, review the shared information, and suggest improvements to the change that would result in win-win.

This 5 step process can take as little as 20 minutes or as long as a day.  It depends on how many people involved, how challenging the change, and how creative the win-win solution designers are willing to be.  The only pre-work is deciding whom to give a voice through inviting them to the exercise.

I took my inspiration for this quick method from the video “Overcoming Resistance to Change – Isn’t it Obvious?”.

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Project Manager Point of View

Thanks to Kendall Lott for producing a great series of podcasts titled, “Project Manager Point of View (PM-POV).” Thanks to PMIWDC for hosting them. Thanks to Michael Hannan for introducing me to Kendall and the podcasts.

If you’re looking for thought-provoking, brilliantly produced, quick podcasts to get your creative project manager ideas flowing, check out PM-POV.

And, if you were wondering, yes I do spend my Saturday nights listening to project management podcasts.  You may be pitying me, but don’t.  First, the podcasts are fantastic.  Second, I listen while relaxing in my hot tub with a cold beer.  That, after a long week, is close to bliss.

Why not try out PM-POV? Wherever you listen, I bet you’ll be glad you did.

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Can you afford not to attend?

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times, “I can’t afford to attend.”

That’s the first thing I hear when I ask people, “Will you join me at Accelerate Results 2016?”  People from a wide range of organizations and industries all respond the same.

Now, most of these people don’t even know how much it costs when they tell me they can’t afford it.  For all they know, it could be free…It isn’t.  They just immediately say they can’t. As a change coach, I know to question any obstacle that jumps so quickly to mind.

Then follows a Socratic dialogue roughly like this:

So you’ve asked to attend?

No, but I know there is no budget.

If there isn’t room in the current budget, what would it take to get the budget increased or go over budget?

I don’t know.  I’ve never asked to go over budget.

What do you think they’d say if you did?

They’d say the project can’t afford overruns.

So if you can’t afford overruns, does that mean you always hit your delivery dates?

No. We are often late.

Are you often late by greater than a week?

Yes, usually.

Do you lose revenue or functionality when you are late?

Yes, of course.

Do you have a rough number in mind of how much it costs your project for each week late?

Yeah, I guess.

Then you can afford cost overruns?

Yes, apparently.

Now, is the cost of being late higher or lower than the cost of attending Accelerate Results?

Oh, much higher.  At least 10 times, if not 100 times higher.

Yet you still can’t afford to attend?

…. <silence>

In the end, each person has to decide what they will do.  All I can do is help people see that what is holding them back is often as they say, “penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

There’s a wealth of better results waiting for you.  All you need to do is decide to do something different.  If you want ideas for what that something different might be, why not attend Accelerate Results 2016?

Can you afford not to?

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Connections

Now is the time to connect with the information you want.  Stop waiting for the information to find you.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Subscribe to the leading magazine covering a topic you’re curious about.
  • Write to a blogger or an author that you’ve always wanted to ask a question.
  • Ask a friend for that presentation you’ve been thinking about.
  • Skype with a academic that researches the field you’re learning about.
  • Schedule lunch with a friend to discuss your ideas.

Regardless of how you get connected, the important thing is to choose to be connected and then act first.  Don’t wait.  Find what you’re looking for today.

Now more than ever, it is out there waiting for you to find it. Why not try?

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Now

When are you going to write your book?” – Bob Steinmetz

Every time I talk to him, my friend Bob asks me the same question.  Over the years my answer has evolved from, “Someday,” to “Soon,” to “Maybe next month.”  I’m happy to announce today that my answer is, “Now.”  I started writing my book today.

A few months ago I practiced what it might be like to write a book by writing a book proposal.  The proposal wasn’t accepted, but it prompted me to start learning about how I might publish a book on my own.  With the help of two awesome new authors, Dr. Dan Diamond and Michael Hannan, and the encouragement of two established authors, Rich Sheridan and Dr. Bob Sutton, I finally felt ready to write.

Looking ahead, I know I’m only going to have my limited moments between the time the kids finally, FINALLY, go to bed each night and when my eyelids refuse to remain aloft to write. Yet, this lack of minutes will not slow my progress.  I’m committed (well, I will be once I hit publish on this post) to getting the book published as an ebook and paperback by April 1, 2016.  Everyone’s always called April “my month,” and this year that’ll be true.

Watch for “Engineering Accelerated Results: How to Rapidly Drive Results Without Driving People” coming soon.

I always ask you, “Why not try?”  Writing this book and committing to publish it by a specific date is me living my values.  I asked myself “Why not try?” and I no longer had a reason to stay stopped, so off I go.  <Zoom!>

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Captured Moments

Each person learns differently, so I know poking around the old posts on this site might not be for you. Why not learn more about Driving Change via several videos captured over the past two years? My April K. Mills YouTube channel has links to many of the videos of my speeches from the past two years around the world.

If you’ve only got time to watch one or two, may I suggest Choosing Change from Agile By Example in Warsaw, Poland in 2015 and Upcycle Your Change from the Intel Agile & Lean Development Conference in 2014.

For my union friends, the keynote from Gdansk, Poland called Driving Change was delivered from the stage at the European Solidarity Center.  The European Solidarity Center is an amazingly haunting tribute to the strength of ordinary people who unite to change the world.  Speaking from the stage there truly moved me.  It’s a memory I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.

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Bending the Organization to Our Will in 2016

In our modern world, organizations are routinely bending nature to their will for our benefit.

Yet, this control doesn’t transfer to the routines of organizational life.  We plan project portfolios using metrics we know aren’t effective, conduct annual performance appraisals that achieve little, and spend months to fill vacancies even though candidates are readily available.

We can do better.  All we need to do is classify the obstacle in way of reaching our goal.

  • A personal belief
  • An organizational rule (written or unwritten)
  • A regulatory policy
  • A law

I have yet to find an obstacle that couldn’t be moved a little or a lot once it was classified.

In 2016, name what is holding you back.  Then, go remove it.  The world you want is possible.

Why not try?

I covered this same topic in a slightly different way back in 2012 in a post, “Which Rules to Follow – A Story.”

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On my adoration for Admiral Rickover

My friends in the nuclear power program always liked to pick on me because of my intellectual love affair with the nuclear navy’s founder, Admiral H. G. Rickover.  Though I would fain hurt feelings during their sessions of teasing, I really didn’t mind.  I have many people who I intellectually adore, Rickover chief among them and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

For a Rickover fan such as me, the new, nearly two hour film, Rickover: The Birth of Nuclear Power, was my Star Wars Episode VII.  It is currently offered free to those with an Amazon Prime subscription, so watch it today.

Why is it an important film for change agents?  Because it shows the real challenges a change agent faces as they try to remake the world.  Rickover faced more than most and his story shatters many novice change agent’s beliefs that the path toward their change should be smooth.  It will not be.  That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it.  Rickover sacrificed more than most and accomplished things beyond all expectations. He has left a legacy that continues to benefit us to this day.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of his death.  An entire generation has grown up and gone to sea without ever knowing a world with him in it.  I was grateful to be part of the program he started, if only for a short time.  I continue as a change agent in the shadow of his example, and I’m grateful to dwell in it.

I won’t ruin the great scenes of the movie for you.  Watch it.  Then, check out these old Engine For Change posts that tell some of the stories applied to driving change.  May his example challenge you and change you in some small way.  Why not try?

Thoughts From a Change Agent

Limited Only By His Own Ability

Heroes

Your Baby’s Ugly

Say-Do

I Still Shout

Be Not Afraid

Recycling – Project 1

A Profession

 The Failed Model of Executive-Led Change

Finding the Devil and Salvation

The Destructive Power of Similarities

Focused Where it is Truly Needed

Seeking Productive People

 

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Reservoir of Untapped Genius

There is…an enormous reservoir of relatively untapped genius–that is, the capacity for exceptional accomplishment–which existing systems of motivation have failed to reach.” – Saul Gellerman, Management by Motivation (1968, page 204)

In June 2014 in London at what is lovingly called Gilbfest, I had the privilege to give a presentation based on my work with Driving Change over the past 10 years. The presentation was titled, “Building an Innovation Implementation System within a Large Organization.”

An innovation implementation system would:

  • shrink the time between idea launch to full implementation
  • create a growing number of observable, successful implementations each year
  • reduce the distance (real and figurative) between people in the organization
  • increase the number of proven leaders of organizational change.

The innovation implementation system was based on organizational physics that mirrors the physics of a hydroelectric system of river, dam, transmission, and industry.

Like potential energy stored in falling water, people in organizations have an inherent capacity for creating innovations.  You don’t have to add innovative people, thoughts, or behaviors to get the process started.

These innovations (which start as single ideas or inventions) flow whether the organization harnesses them or not.  Hence, it is to an organization’s benefit to install an innovation implementation system as soon as possible.  Every day that passes innovative ideas flow out of your organization without producing a benefit for you.

The implementation breaks into a few steps.

  1. A Reservoir Step: How to Collect Innovative Ideas
  2. A Power Generation Step: How to Harness Urgency
  3. A Transmission Step: How to Connect Innovations with the Organization and Beyond
  4. A Results Step: How to Create Sustainable Power and Results

The Reservoir Step is to simply ask for ideas AND volunteers to implement the ideas.  Ideas without volunteers lack potential energy.  It is only when an idea is embodied in a person within the organization that the idea can be funneled into power generation and transferred energetically downstream.

The Power Generation Step is propelled by volunteers who carry forward their ideas by driving change, not people.  They don’t demand others do what they won’t.  Instead the volunteers invest their time in modeling the change, sharing what they’ve learned, and removing the obstacles for others to follow them.

DPDC

The Transmission Step links the hierarchy of the organization with the network of volunteers, using the energy of both to accelerate the idea forward.  As John Kotter expertly explains in Accelerate, it is hierarchy AND network, rather than the traditional hierarchy OR network battle that allows organizations to benefit the most.

The Results Step demands sustainment (defined as the ability for the idea to continue without injection of new energy from the original idea volunteer) as the measure of final results.  Too often launching an idea is considered the end point, and all of the work up until that point is like a spark at the end of a frayed electrical line–light and heat accomplishing nothing.  This can be prevented through a commitment to partner with the downstream benefactors until the innovation can stand on its own.

As in a hydroelectric system, there is much engineering behind each of these steps, but these four steps are a complete outline of a working innovation implementation system that that I’ve built, run, and benefited from many times.

If this outline intrigues you and you’d like the detailed schematics of the innovation implementation system, feel free to reach out to me.  Together we can harness the reservoirs of untapped genius in our organizations.

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