Change makers need to win minds and hearts. For the more evaluative brain style profiles, the word ‘change’ will automatically start to ring small alarm bells and when people are pushed to change, they will resist.
Leaders need to understand how people actually work and, to become a full-time change manager, must learn to bridge the business demands with the reality of howthe human brain works best. It is critical to ensure that people have the skills,awareness and attitude to effect real change.
Let’s look at the three key pulse points which we need to effect change, namely imagination, exploration and celebration.
If we want innovation, it starts by fostering a delight in getting out of the box. There are many reasons this is difficult. Traditional hierarchy resists innovation, especially ideas that overturn well-established power, and where ‘knowledge is power’ is well embedded in the culture, and hierarchy often don’t want to really hear at times. This means we need to actively seek out different, even contrary perspectives and continuously ask ‘What if …?’
In order to activate a process of imagination we need positive energy. We need to feel safe, open, curious and adventurous. For this reason, as a leader we need to create a positive mood, invite and support out-of-the-box thinking, and seek alternatives. When someone challenges a basic assumption or dares to imagine anew path, do we as leaders jump on them, or do we create the emotions to facilitate innovation? We should also be encouraging the exploring of multiple perspectives.
As leaders we should move away from seeking the ‘perfect plan’ that paralyzes us in pursuit of perfection. Instead let’s do a prototype and then refine. Rather than endlessly planning, we need an adaptive process for planning. This ‘ready-fire-aim’ process is also very useful for training our brains. We condition ourselves to take the risk, to jump in, try, and then adjust. The ‘aim’ phase is critical. We need a little preparation, a test and then time to refine. This cycle produces energy, creativity and the opportunity to explore. To test. To see what might work better. So, as leaders, we should encourage an experimental approach where new initiatives can quickly be put to test. Create space for exploration, look at multiple prototypes, and give people opportunities to lead too, and empower them.
All too often, organizations have started a new initiative before the dust has settled from the last round. There are multiple reasons for this impatience. One core factor is time. Under intense pressure to do more with less, managers are reacting rather than planning. There’s also a fear of complacency and a misassumption that celebrating success will make people stop working hard. Perhaps the biggest obstacle is fear of conflict and controversy. As a result, managers jump into the next round, hoping that people will simply leave their frustrations behind. It won’t work.
If we want to be effective in change, we need to step out of the daily frenzy and review what’s working, and what’s not. Without judgment or blame, we can acknowledge failures and learn. Then we can celebrate success, and even celebrate the learning from the failures.
Celebrate means investing time to acknowledge the efforts that have gone into the work thus far. Value the failures by learning, and enjoy the successes by appreciating. The celebration creates energy that then fuels the re-launch of the next round of challenges and goals. We should, therefore, find the value in what’s happened recently. Acknowledge, appreciate, learn and then step into the next round. Invest in debriefing after the project and don’t assume everyone feels the same. It’s also useful to underline that every failure is an opportunity to learn. Value the principle of celebration and then use your imagination to put it into practice.
Change can be daunting that’s for sure, but it really doesn’t have to be if approached with the right attitude, and if the right feelings that include curiosity instead of fear can be engaged. As leaders, it stems from us and we set the tone.
So going forward,let’s all try to remember that in Change we need to break the ICE – Imagine, Celebrate and Explore – and with this try to create the right emotions that will not hinder the process but rather propel it forward.
We can also use the EAR strategy of Engage, bring your people into the vision; Activate, increase skills, capability and experiment; and Reflect, celebrate progress and reimagine the future.