Category Archives: Change Managers

Afraid of being all alone in your change effort? Check out your “dojo” for allies!

Let’s revisit Herb Shepard‘s “Rules of Thumb for Change Agents” which have stood the test of time for 40 years.  This time we’ll talk about his fourth rule:

RULE IV: Innovation requires a good idea, initiative and a few friends.

In my last post on Change Ninjas we talked about the benefit of blending in to the organization and timing your advocacy of change.  However, you can’t do it alone.

I recently worked with an organization that wanted to see a significant culture change but didn’t have full time resources to dedicate to it.  One person was clearly interested in being a ‘ninja’ and knew that they couldn’t do it alone…so where could they find partners?

Dojo

The Dojo!

Just like the historic ninjas, this Change Ninja quickly formed a “dojo” of allies from several areas of the organization and the team began to sketch out the future state of the change and the steps needed to get there.  When choosing ‘dojo members’, they followed Shepard’s advice:

“Like the change agent, partners must be relatively autonomous people.  Persons who are authority-oriented—who need to rebel or to submit—are not reliable partners; the rebels take the wrong risks and the good soldiers don’t take any.”

If you’re trying to inspire change, find people who are like minded (regardless of where they are in the organization), get them together, and get to work!

Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dojo.png

 

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“Change Ninjas” survive to fight another day!

Herb Shepard directed the first doctoral program focused on successful organizational change and performance. In 1975, he published “Rules of Thumb for Change Agents” which have held up surprisingly well to the test of 40+ years of time. Let’s take a look at one of them.

RULE I: Stay alive.

Organizations are designed to deliver results but the world is changing around them. When change is triggered externally, most organizations find struggle to find the right people to help them respond. So, when a few brave souls take up the mantle of ‘change agent’ you would think that they would be celebrated…but that’s not usually the case. “Antibodies” in the organization, often at the middle management level, attack the internal change by convincing those who will listen why ‘it’s not a good idea’ and ‘things are fine just the way they are’.

How do you survive the attacks from those internal antibodies? Become a Change Ninja…wait, a what!?!

The two main roles of historic ninjas were espionage and strategy.  Change Ninjas gather intelligence about the organization around them and figuring out ways (a.k.a. strategies) to influence the organization (most often indirectly).  After peacefully living in the current system, Change Ninjas can jump out of their camouflaged position once opposition to change has been reduced.

ninja-155848_1280

Some budget is available? Shed the camouflage and make a strong case for directing it toward the growth project. A team needs a new member? Make sure to nominate someone who is sympathetic to the changes that need to take place.

Why the camouflage? Shepard says it best. He “counsels against self sacrifice on behalf of a cause that you do not wish to be your last.”   Risks are necessary but make sure that they are “taken as part of a purposeful strategy of change, and appropriately timed and hedged. When they are taken under such circumstances, one is very much alive.”

When you need to make a major change, become a Change Ninja and live to fight another day!

Need some ‘Introduction to Change Ninja training’?  Johannes Mutzke and I will be teaching a our Leading Change class in the Upstate of South Carolina on November 13.  More information is available here and you can register here.  Would love to see you there!

Not in the Greenville, SC area?  Check out my book on the three types of people that are key to every change.

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/ninja-laptop-typing-notebook-155848/

3 Surprise Ways to Get Your Solution Adopted

Depending on your age, at least one of these three ‘format wars’ should sound familiar:

8 Track vs Cassette (Boomers)

Betamax vs VHS (Gen X)

Blu-ray Disc vs HD DVD (Gen Y)

I think there are at least three special things that helped the ‘winner’ in each of these ‘wars’.  I’ll be using a framework from a previous post (Want An Effective Solution? Work On Its Acceptance!) so take a read if the equation Q x A = E doesn’t sound familiar to you.

Lesson 1 – The ‘consumers’ of the change make the choice

The 8 Track was seen as the successor to vinyl records with the awesome feature of being able to skip to INDIVIDUAL SONGS!  In addition, they were much more portable than vinyl…and players could be installed in cars.

So why did the 8 Track lose out?  Price and reliability.  The cassette didn’t have a quality advantage but it was a few dollars cheaper and longer lasting.  Consumers chose based on their needs, not just product quality.

If you want your solution to be accepted, figure out what the ‘consumers’ of it need.

Lesson 2 – Quality isn’t always king

Sony’s Betamax format was more reliable and had higher resolution than JVC’s VHS format.  However VHS initially had twice the capacity and later four times (Beta’s 60 min vs VHS’ 240 min)…and this made all the difference.

Consumers didn’t want to switch tapes when recording a movie or sporting event, even if the resolution was better.

Don’t be fooled by thinking your solution will win out on quality alone.

Lesson 3 – Competitors can quickly become allies

From 2006 to 2008, Sony’s Blu-Ray and Toshiba’s HD DVD fought to become the standard for high definition video.  Cost was initially the differentiating factor with each solution having some minor technical differences.  Both companies quickly created alliances with manufacturers of consumer electronics as well as film studios.

Both sides had key wins in the ‘battle’ but the turning point was when Warner Brothers defected from HD DVD to Blu-Ray.  Within a few weeks, Blu-Ray was the clear winner as most other major manufacturers abandoned HD-DVD.

Keep your eyes open for possible alliances that can change the game.

 

 

We just covered a few lessons here…what have you experienced?

Image Credit: wikimedia.org

Why do I have to change when things are good?

There are people around you who are perfectly comfortable the way things are. But, you know things need to change – because of opportunities or threats that most people haven’t seen yet. So how do you help people who are comfortable move to a new, better place?

The late Dr. Michael Hammer was a gifted teacher and I once heard him discuss “Everything I Needed to Know About Transition I Learned in the Bible.” His premise: How do you make people see a need for change when things are good?

Show them how things can go bad.

The Hebrew people were in slavery to the Egyptians. They had to make mud bricks all day and build these huge pyramids in the baking sun. No fun. The relative safety and abundant food made them satisfied and when Moses arrived on the scene announcing it was time to move to a great new place (the ‘Promised Land’) he didn’t get much buy in.

IMG_0251

Hey Moses, are you sure there’s a better place than this?

Sound like any change you’ve been involved in?

So, how were the Hebrews convinced to leave this difficult yet comfortable place? Moses combined a burning platform (“Pharaoh is chasing us!”) and a motivating vision (“A land flowing with milk and honey!”)

After escaping Pharaoh, Moses led the people into the Sinai Desert.   They had gone from Egypt (bad) to the Desert (very bad). No constant water supply, harvesting a miraculous food supply, moving regularly. They surely longed for the “good old days.” That is, until they crossed the Jordan River and arrived in the “Promised Land.” And it was good.

So, do you need to move people to a “promised land” that they don’t want to visit? Take a lesson from Moses. Help them understand how now is bad, take them (if only in their imaginations) to a place that’s worse, and then lead them to the promise that is held by the future.

Read a summary of the Israelites Exodus from Egypt here
Image of Pyramids and Spinx © 2006-2016 Kenneth E. Fields

Want An Effective Solution? Work On Its Acceptance!

General Electric’s Change Acceleration Process introduced a very powerful equation: Q x A = E.  While not on par with more famous equations like Einstein’s (E=MC²) or Pythagorus’ (A²+B² =C²), Q x A=E holds the keys to successfully getting your solution adopted.  Let’s break it down.

Q = Quality

A = Acceptance

E = Effectiveness

An awesome technical solution would have a high “Quality” score.  A solution that all stakeholder love would have a high “Acceptance” score.  Say you want to buy the best 65″Ultra HD 4K TV in the store.  You’ve done all the research and decide to buy near the top of the line.

TVs_for_sale

Pick a TV, any TV!

Quality = 9

But say your significant other thinks that money would be better spent on a family vacation and will remind you of that fact every time you turn on the TV.

 Acceptance = 4

so, Effectiveness = 36

What if you decided to skimp on quality a little and pay half the price?  I mean are the differences really noticeable to the average viewer?

Quality = 7

and you used that money to go to the beach so that you were able to watch the new TV without fear of commentary?

Acceptance = 8

so, Effectiveness = 56

Winner!

This logic applies to personal changes (changing towns, homes, schools…) as well as professional ones (new benefits programs, software packages, office space).  So, next time you have to find a solution to a problem, don’t just look for the best “Quality” solution, spend some time thinking about “Acceptance” too!

 photo credit: wikimedia.org

Are you brave enough to do the wrong thing?

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, is consistently ranked as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents.  In fact, he’s held in such high regard that his face is carved into Mount Rushmore in South Dakota alongside three other great presidents.

However, did you know that he had a pretty incredible number of setbacks?

  • He suffered from asthma as a child
  • Roosevelt’s first wife died two days after giving birth…and his mother died the same day in the same house
  • After those dual tragedies, he became a cattle rancher in the Dakotas…and blizzards destroyed his herd
  • He won his first election (New York State Assembly) and lost his second (New York City Mayor)

His exploits became legendary after these potentially devastating losses.  He became the equivalent of Secretary of the Navy, formed the famous Rough Riders, served as Governor of New York, U.S. Vice President, and U.S. President.  While President, he ordered construction of the Panama Canal AND won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt was able to have a good laugh, even after some significant setbacks

How did Roosevelt progress from the early setbacks in his life?  I found this quote that really challenges me:

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. – Theodore Roosevelt

Today, I’m striving to do SOMETHING…and I hope you will too!

photo credit: mentalfloss.com

Want your changes to last? Look in the refrigerator!

A few weeks into the new year, people are trying valiantly to keep their resolutions.  Some even look to others as accountability partners or coaches.  Those types of people can make a huge difference in our lives.  However, individual commitment is the most important key to success.  Let’s take a look at our friend, the egg.

If broken from the outside, a life ends…

Broken Egg

but if it is broken from the inside…

Chick in egg

a life begins!

So, when you want to see yourself make a change or help others, remember, the big changes in life start from the inside!

Photo Credits:
http://imblog.ideaglow.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/chick-in-egg.jpg
http://www.dailyperricone.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Broken-Egg.jpg

Football Program Maintainers – Nick Saban

Today’s post is the last in a series on the three types of change resources in the world of football.   So far, we’ve talked about a Builder (Urban Meyer) and a Visionary ( Darrel “Mouse” Davis).  Today we’ll be talking about a very successful Maintainer.

Maintainers typically like being ‘experts.’  Although they don’t often get much publicity, Maintainers are key to the stability of every organization.  They excel at doing the same thing, the same way every time…and that’s what University of Alabama coach Nick Saban does.  His teams win football games (and championships) almost every year.

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Saban’s detailed plan for winning is affectionately called “The Process” around the university’s Tuscaloosa home and it encompasses everything from his players summer workouts to what he eats for breakfast (Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies thank you very much).  Saban wants things done the same way (HIS way) every time with the belief that if everyone does their job correctly, they will be successful.

Saban’s (some would say maniacal) need to control the details doesn’t mean that he’s not open to new ideas.  He was an early adopter of academic advisers and sports psychiatrists to help his teams be successful in less obvious facets of the game.

Maintainers can get a bad rap for wanting to ‘keep the process going’.  However, Saban shows us that doing the right things year after year can produce some pretty impressive results.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

The People You Need to Make Change Succeed!

In my last post, we talked about bringing successful change to your organization by helping you identify the critical resources needed.  Before you can identify others, however, it helps to know where you fit.  So, let’s let’s take a quiz. Which of the three profiles below seems most like you?

A)  You are a teacher and have been for the past ten years. The most rewarding part of your job is watching the children leave at the end of the school year, ready for the next grade.
 
B)  You are a dentist and truly enjoy your job. Although you have to admit that mouths look pretty similar, you enjoy ensuring your patients will have their teeth for years to come.
 
C)  You are a stay at home parent. You enjoy finding projects to do with your children and have a good time working together with them to complete the activity. However, while you are working on it, you are already thinking about the next big thing to do together.

 Which of the behaviors above sounded most like you?  Now that you’ve chosen, let’s take a look at the details.

Profile A is typical of builders. Builders like to ‘construct’ things (people, organizations, processes, relationships) until they no longer see opportunities for improvement. Then, it’s time to find something else to build.

Profile B is typical of maintainers. People who match this profile typically like being ‘experts.’ They excel at doing the same thing, the same way every time.

Profile C is typical of visionaries. They seldom live in the present, preferring to look at the opportunities of the future. They are big idea people, often seeing opportunities before anyone else.

In following posts, we’ll explore all three of these profiles.  But until then, comment below to let us know which one you are.  How do you typically react when change is coming your way?

How Do We Make Change Stick?

I would be hard pressed to list more than a handful of organizations  that have endured longer than 400 years and I guess that you would have a similar problem. Why is it that some ideas succeed for a short time and then don’t last? Sometimes, it seems that even better ideas don’t take root! I think that the secret to success is in the people making it happen.

After many years of observing people in the business and civic arenas, I noticed a pattern that gave me insight into why people acted the way they did in situations of organizational or process change.  I found that it applied at work, at home, and in volunteer organizations. It even applies across international borders. I am not a psychologist, nor have I done any academic research in this area. However, I believe that knowing what change management personality ‘type’ you are can make a big difference in how you see yourself…and knowing what type others are can help you (and whatever it is you are involved in) be more successful.

That’s why I’ve written the book Visionaries, Builders, and Maintainers.  I want to help you bring successful change to your organization by helping you identify these critical resources.  In my next blog post, I’ll introduce you to these important people.