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How To Change The Change Process

How to Change the Change Process

By Philip Elworth


Three things need to happen at the same time if you want change to occur.  You need to change the situation and you need to influence both the heart and mind of those who need to change.


Kotter and Cohen say in their book The Heart of Change that real change happens in the following order, SEE-FEEL-CHANGE.  Emotion needs to be involved not logic.  We all know when we need to change something but knowing does not make it happen.  The authors site an example in this book where a manager of a large manufacturing organization knew the firm was wasting large sums on inefficient purchases.  But how to effect the change was the question.


To prove his point this manager sent out an intern to investigate the purchasing process of one single, low priced item, work gloves.  The intern discovered that the various factories were purchasing 424 different types of work gloves.  He collected a sample of each one and labeled them with the price paid.  They were all using different suppliers and negotiating their own prices.  Gloves of similar type had prices ranging from $3.22 to $10.55.  The manager made an exhibit of his finding by placing them in a pile in the board room table in front of senior management.  They were stunned at the visual display of inefficiently in a simple low cost item.  When they saw the display their response was silence, but it could have been “this is crazy, we are crazy, we’ve got to make this stop happening”. 


What do you think would have happened had this employee put a spreadsheet together showing the inefficiency?  This manager could have preached this topic forever and not had the same effect.  Until the powers that be could see the situation and feel it, then they would not be motivated to change.  The logic of the inefficiency would not have swayed them.


Chip and Dan Heath unpack this topic in detail in their new book entitled Switch.  They state that the core matter of change is about changing behavior.  See-feel-change, not analyze-think-change.  So how do you go about changing behavior?


 One way is to shrink the change.  If you could begin to invest in getting in shape by exercising 1 minute a day would you do it?  I would advocate that if you invested this one minute a day for a period of time, it would change your mindset and allow you to slowly move up to the 20-30 minutes necessary for fitness.  But a commitment to one minute is doable, shrink the change.  Where else could you apply this concept?


A second means to change is to instill a growth mindset.  Plan to fail.  If you start a diet and blow it one night are you done with dieting?  If you consider the possibility that you will fail and plan for it, it will be easier to pick up the pieces and move on.  The mind is like a mussel, practice and attempts to learn or change create new pathways for change to happen.  No skill learned over time was ever completed without some level of failure.  So plan for it and it will not devastate you.


A third way to instill change is to find the bright spots and celebrate them. Whether raising kids, training employees or changing you.  Find what is working, celebrate it and do more of it.  Encouragement and praise will always take you further than negativity.  So start by celebrating your success no matter how small it may be.


Change can be hard but when properly undertaken success can be achieved.

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