Inducing a change

I'm currently working on site with client. The other day I had a conversation with one of the project managers and somehow we landed on a topic of inducing a change in organization. Especially, when the change needs to be supported by management and management is not very supportive, because the problem is not very high on the priority list. Depending on the actual environment and type of change involved here are two strategies that might work.

Get allies. Often times you and your fellow colleagues feel the pain, know the problem and see the solution, but management does not really understand what it is that you are trying to solve and therefore is reluctant to support you or allocate funds needed to implement change. What you can do it to get an ally, who shares your vision and is willing to take the problem and solution to the management with you. If two people show up with the same problem, it is easier to get attention and have manager spend time thinking about what you have to say. When you open a meeting you called to resolve this problem with "We've discussed this problem with such and such (and those people are in the room) and we are in agreement that solution would be..." it is much easier to get through manager's internal "why do I care?"

Propose to try. This is based on The Puppy Dog Close approach. Here is how Tim Ferris describes it in The 4-hour Workweek:

The Puppy Dog Close in sales is so named because it is based on the pet store sales approach: If someone likes a puppy but is hesitant to make the life-altering purchase, just offer to let them take the pup home and bring it back of they change their minds. Of course, the return seldom happens.

The Puppy Dog Close is invaluable whenever you face resistance to permanent changes. Get your foot in the door with a "let's just try it once" reversible trial.

There is psychological resistance to make perceivably big decisions without "proper" consideration, which, of course, never happens if the problem does not seem very important to management. By making the change temporary you lower the barrier for amount of consideration on the change. If the change will be for good, most likely no one will question the decision to make it. And, of course, if change for some reason does not bring the relief, you need to be the first to admit it and revert back to older procedures.

What do you do to induce a change in organization?

(Image by Dina Middin)