Articles and papers written by some of the industries top thought-leaders on business strategy and transformation.

How to Make Change a Desirable Thing

The Execution Gap is the biggest gap of all. It’s created by combination of  static approaches to managing the strategic roll-out and the organizations’ resistance to change.

Since every consultant on the planet has their own version of tools to manage the execution phase – I’m not going to focus on that here.  Instead, I’m focusing on how to make change desirable.

Resistance to change is  part of being human.  It’s the result of an instinctual response that triggers a chemical reaction that drives us to resist whatever change is coming at us.  Learning to lead around these instincts and reactions fuels our ability to create an organization that adapts and innovates.

Here’s how to do just that.

Change in Business

When a change in business is presented to our unconscious mind, we see that change as a threat and we either resist or avoid it. We also seek the safety and comfort of the status quo. That’s part of the status quo bias, which is another instinctual mindware program related to the threat response. When we see a change, our threat response is activated and we hang onto “the way we’ve always done it”, even when “it” isn’t working and our businesses are suffering.

In the middle of that threatening situation – we instinctively seek the safe and known. Even if the downward spiral continues.

Leading Into Change

Thanks to modern science and discoveries about human behavior, we have the insights and techniques to lead our teams to accept and even relish the changes we need to sustain successful growth.

How? Here are three simple steps to lead successful change.

Diss the status quo.

If our status quo seems safe and comfie, we’ll head right to it in times of change, digging in like donkeys.

When our human minds see that status quo is a potentially unsafe place – we will begin to look for new options.  That’s why the first step is to shift the perception of the way you’ve always done it.Here are some ideas on how to do just that.

  • Make the status quo less appealing by pointing out the inherent challenges, risks, and the downside potentials of remaining in that very status quo.
  • Point to competitors or businesses inside or outside your industry that have shifted away from the status quo and into more success.
  • Identify other vendors who didn’t shift and show the negative results.

The idea is to make sure your teams feel as though they have a choice between the status quo or change –  but make the status quo an obviously poor choice. But be careful and don’t scare your teams.  That will send them into full  blown status quo bias and they won’t change.  The idea is to loosen the power of the status quo with a bit of reality, not increase their threat response. Be thoughtful.

Focus on the upside.

As humans we are programmed to focus on the problems, especially when it comes to the problems driving our need for change.  I have seen so many organizations in change, with leaders explaining the need for the change based on problems, threats, bad stuff happening and more woe is me discussions. All that focus on the problems serves to instill more threat responses as we focus on what’s wrong, failing or just plain scary.

When leading change within your teams or organization, focus on the upside from the changes. Share details about the powerful solutions and the positive results that will come with the change.  Talk about others who have experienced change that resulted in great things happening. This solution-oriented focus shifts the human mind into a positive and open state.  That’s when creativity and excitement begin… and successful change follows.

Ask questions to get people involved.

We’ve all had leaders tell us what and how we will change, making statements that sound like there’s no option. It didn’t feel good, did it?  Statements serve to narrow the mind, limiting our choices and responses. When someone tells you what you will do, you don’t feel involved or empowered, now do you?

Instead of making those statement, ask questions! Questions open the mind to seek more ideas and option. Questions also empower a person to feel involved and part of their change.

When speaking to your employees about a needed change – ask for their inputs. They know their roles best of all, so ask them what they believe needs to change for better results. Get them involved and open their mind with questions. This simple shift can and will increase your teams’ willingness and enthusiasm for making changes.

The Bottom Line

Change is a given within any organization. As we all know, leading successful change is the key to creating competitive advantage for your organization. Use these three simple techniques and watch the results in your own teams.

Before you know it – change will become and inherent and powerful force in your organization’s success.