The blog entry title- It does mean something!
To see the future IS a challenge, but more so when faced with the very emotional issues resulting from the ambiguity and financial questions raised, directly or indirectly, by significant organizational change.
The first phrase of this title has a well known meaning- job loss due to the recession, or tight competition, or disagreement on roles and responsibility or scope. You are the waste referred to. You are about to be squeezed. The second- you will have a new owner and you don’t know what that will mean to you or your family. The third- you and Senior Leadership are not aligned. All three are ambiguous situations and ambiguity is, more often than not, not welcome. But the hard truth is. “It IS what it IS.”
And influencing the shift of opinions and behaviors of others—the Change Agent role of a leader– is a moving target. As much as the western world would like it to be, we are not linear beings, beyond birth and death. Especially in emotional situations such as divorce, job threats, course failure as students, we zig zag back and forth between hope and frustration, reality and denial. The roadmap of change is more a map of secondary and tertiary roads, taking us toward or away from our final outcome. Some make it to the Change Vision City and others just don’t.
“People are not the problem. People are the purpose.”
Pastor Matt’s motto, “People are not the problem. People are the purpose,” applies to our leadership role in managing change. It may be an organizational change, but organizations are made up of people. I have rarely been called into assist as a Change Manager or as a coach and not ended up helping others address people issues through training, communications or coaching. So where do we need to focus?
Note on my Aha moment of connecting the dots: Credit for the source of ideas below goes to Nancy Jennings and Chris Collins. Chris is my facilitator for a University of Manitoba course, “Immersive Worlds, Avatars and Second Lives.” They are citing the work of E. Rogers on the diffusion of innovations. My thoughts are tied around communication and personal learning. (To see a 1.38 minute video on aha moments, see the bottom for an aha moment example from a fellow named Jamie from Fort Bend, Indiana.)
From Early Adopters to Laggards
We know that some are Early Adopters when it comes to change. They are willing to take a risk. Others become the Early Majority, the pragmatists, and people looking for tools to solve their problems. They tend to be more risk adverse than early change adopters and have a smaller community of contacts. The Late Majority are skeptical. They accept the change when the reality is well established. They tend to stay in their own community, world. Finally, there are the Laggards. (“Skip, get off the fence, tell us what you really think!”) They just won’t accept the change. They may be in complete denial to avoid reality. They may not have told their spouse that there is a major change afoot.
Early Adopters and Early Majority: The Learning and Communication Challenge
Early Adopters favor rapid and significant change in their life or business, see the future coming, tend to be project oriented, willing to take risks and to experiment, are generally self-sufficient and connected across the spectrum of organizational relationships. The Early Majority go with the flow, and prefer things to evolve, tend to be pragmatic, look to a process, tend to avoid risk, want proven applications, may need significant support throughout the change process and trend to look upward to leadership.
Moving from early adoption to early majority requires a significant and laser like focus on differing needs and perceptions.
Managing the Mental Shift Requirement via a Change Plan
So what to do to manage the change process in our organizations? Create a written Change Plan and track your progress against it. Hold yourself accountable for results.
When we write we think more deeply, we revise and edit as we go. Now, if you were the kind of student that turned in your first draft, you may find this shocking- your first draft was not very good and that is why you failed the course! And if you kept doing that you were Homer Simpson- if you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.
What does this Change Plan include?
1. Identify the Early Adopters ASAP. List them out. Create a mind map of their “influence network.” Who do they hang out with? Who influences them? Who do they influence?
2. Capture the energy of the Early Adopters. Make them Champions of Change by giving them the tools to influence others- the facts. Facts- not hype. We are a species that soon recognizes when “the dog won’t hunt.”
3. Mold the message that appeals to the Early Majority. This action will speed the acceptance process: there are pragmatic business steps to the process and there is a timeline. (At least in business there are both!) Communicate that message visually with a journey map. Include that message and map in regular meetings.
Note on my second Aha moment of connecting the dots: I connected the dots below based on an article provided by Chris, “Education Unleased….”
Provide some outside expertise and solid tools to realize and manage the process and consequences of change
- People learn best when they spend time with people, let’s call them Grey Hairs regardless of age or sex, who have mastered the required skills, processes and support tools because the Grey Hairs have lived the experiences the others are encountering. The Grey Hairs have zigged and zagged, lived in denial, but managed themselves through the change process with an ample supply of Lessons Learned to share.
- People learn best from just-in-time delivery- they know they need what they lack because they have become aware of what they don’t know.
- People learn best when they enjoy collaborative experiences. No expensive lecture or sage
Connect and Follow Up with Social Media
Technology allows the coaching Grey Hairs to continue follow up in a interactive fashion. Check out this example built on a Ning site— The Quest for Authentic Leadership
Imagine the potential of a workshop follow up linking participants to others, Grey Hairs or not, willing to share their experiences- with a site loading with posters and visuals, videos, a blog, global Tweets from others. The knowledge grows out of the connections.
Now check out this example of an aha moment on careers and work.
My Challenge to You!
1. When faced with a major change, what were your aha moments? How did you share them? With whom? Where? How did that make you feel?
2. Who are YOUR Grey Hairs? How have they helped you?