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Co-Creation: Misconceptions In Change Programs

Misconceptions In Change Programs:
PART TWO (Resistance)

A widespread misconception in the organizational development field is that people lack the ability or willingness to change. This misconception is a lens by which executives and managers are approaching change. If people are approached with the misconception that they are the problem and the issue that must be dealt with to make the change succeed, they will react with a natural, negative reaction. A negative approach to change will prompt a negative reaction from people, because they are forced to participate in a change they have not thought of.

A negative view of human beings bodes poorly for organizational change. This approach robs co-workers from the opportunity to participate in the creation of the solution, and results directly in resistance! It assumes people do not want change, and need to be motivated to make changes. A communication plan based on this approach may be well-constructed, but it will be centered on the misconception that people must be actively informed about and convinced of the necessity of change. This is the wrong focus.

Worst of all, approaches to change revolving around this negative misconception that human beings neither want nor are good at change result in the sense that urgency needs to be forced upon co-workers. Executives believe that this urgency is important for achieving a successful change. It implies that members of the organization will be unwilling to change until the house is truly on fire.

Paradoxically, the reality is completely the opposite. Change is something people are very good at and even take satisfaction from accomplishing. Individuals conduct changes constantly, and almost always successfully.

Within organizations, changes will be more successful when conducted through the process of co-creation. More brainpower will be applied to the solution, resulting in a better quality result. Since the people who must implement the solution are creating it, resistance will be minimized—in many cases completely eliminated. As they participated in the creation of the change, they will automatically want to implement it through the materialization phase.

Co-Creation Inspiring and Being Inspired

These co-workers often become ambassadors for the change and will do anything to make sure it happens. Issues or flaws within the design of the solution are dealt with by the team in a harmonious state since it is their idea. They are invested in bringing their idea to life successfully. The incredible power of co-creation is that people involved in the change are automatically co-owners of the idea. It is in their full interest to make the change a success.

The concept of co-creation explains the commonly heard saying, “People are willing to change, but don’t want to be changed!”

This has been a quick look at misconceptions in change management. In Part Three, we’ll look at the power of diversity in co-creation.

About the Author

Paul Brand is a management consultant working with global blue chip organizations such as Shell, Heineken, Sony, ABN AMRO Bank, Ahold, and EON. Evolving from an operations perspective, Paul’s focus moved into providing specific expertise on growing and nurturing the innate ability to change.

Paul leads organizations through the confusion of change management from “just another management methodology” to the understanding that change management is about the development of people. With his book, Change Your Mind, Change Your Business, Paul’s purpose is to dispel the common misunderstanding and even negativity surrounding change management, and how you can begin successfully applying it in your own environment.

For a free assessment of your own change management skill set, and more information about Paul’s book, Change Your Mind, Change Your Business, click here.

Co-Creation: The Secret to Preventing Resistance

The Power of Co-Creation In Managing Change: PART ONE

Change management initiatives within organizations concentrate on execution of action. The directive for change comes from the top down, and frequently results in resistance to that change. Another approach is possible, however: one that almost always results in a noticeable improvement in efficiency of the change’s implementation. By ignoring the enormous potential for improvement in the development of organizations by persisting exclusively with the top down initiative direction, executives are causing the organization to experience unnecessary struggles and failures. This can be corrected through the understanding and application of a few key organizational development principles.

Co-Creation, The Change Management Secret

Organizations are gatherings of people. This can be forgotten by executives who have adopted a mechanistic point of view. When the people of the organization are able to develop themselves successfully, though, the organization they operate within develops with success as well. The way people develop themselves can be termed the “creation process.” This process leads the individual from desire to realization, and is always at work. Even those who are unaware of the creation process do apply it.

The creation process consists of several phases. From the organizational development perspective, two phases are most important: Idea and Materialization. The first is the initial conceptualization of the idea. The second is the manifestation of this idea into reality. For example, if a person’s desire is to drink a cup of coffee, they must first imagine doing so. Then they can choose from different actions to materialize that idea into the physical world. Whether they walk to a café downtown or the coffee machine in the next room, they are materializing the idea.

Central to this law is the understanding that it is not possible to take action to materialize the result without first having had the idea.

Organizations Develop Like People Because They Are Made of People

It is here where top down-directed change initiatives in organizations fail. Significant issues with implementing successful changes are clearly now resulting from large organizations trying to get front line staff to materialize those changes without their first having shared the idea. When a small, select group of people thinks of the ideas for change, and then assigns the carrying out of those changes to a larger, different group of people who have not shared the idea, materialization is going to be troublesome.

From the law of creation it is apparent that taking successful, friction-free action on an idea which an individual has not thought of first is impossible. It is therefore clear why most organizational changes are doomed before they even begin. Most co-workers and managers who must take action on the idea have not been included in the creation of the idea. This common cause of failure in change management is logically the result of lack of awareness and application of the creation process.

It is now clear why large organizations especially frequently have issues with implementing successful changes. Since the law of creation is largely unknown its principles are ignored. The result are the all-too-common symptoms of problems in change programs: resistance with managers and co-workers, lack of participation in execution of change, and low quality solutions.

One could be confused into thinking these symptoms are the true factors of success or failure in change initiatives; however, they are actually indications of an ineffective approach to managing change. The discovery of the potency of deliberately applying the creation process to change is the understanding that people cannot participate in a change they have not first thought of—and that resistance is the logical result!

In Part Two, we’ll investigate some key misconceptions in change management.

About the Author

Paul Brand is a management consultant working with global blue chip organizations such as Shell, Heineken, Sony, ABN AMRO Bank, Ahold, and EON. Evolving from an operations perspective, Paul’s focus moved into providing specific expertise on growing and nurturing the innate ability to change.

Paul leads organizations through the confusion of change management from “just another management methodology” to the understanding that change management is about the development of people. With his book, Change Your Mind, Change Your Business, Paul’s purpose is to dispel the common misunderstanding and even negativity surrounding change management, and how you can begin successfully applying it in your own environment.

For a free assessment of your own change management skill set, and more information about Paul’s book, Change Your Mind, Change Your Business, click here.

Fixing Resistance In Change

Why Fixing Resistance In Change Has Failed—
And What To Do Instead: PART THREE (Co-Creation)

In Parts 1 and 2, we discovered that while change management has historically focused on smart ways to fix issues of resistance in change projects, prevention was a better solution. We learned from change management expert Paul Brand’s many years of field experience that prevention of resistance is best accomplished through inclusion via the co-creation process.

Resistance therefore altered in perception from being a ‘bad’ thing to being an indicator that co-creation laws had been violated and people were feeling excluded. They had not thought the thought, and therefore felt no involvement in the transformation. In fact, they frequently resented the intrusion from above.

Reduced Resistance In Change Management Comes From Co-Creation

Recalling the imagination and materialization steps in the creation process, the solution is to allow these stakeholders to participate in co-creative activity. As they participate in creation and materialization, resistance will dissipate. The only true solution is inclusion. Since those previously displaying resistance have been and remain highly interested in the transformation, they may even become ambassadors for it.

Looking closely at co-materialization, what occurs is a group of people transform the ideas they generated themselves into their reality. By whom, how, where and when are key factors to identify during the creation process. Working together to develop the plan is a requirement. Without doing so, actions will be assigned to people who have not thought of them—thereby violating the co-creation process.

When an individual has thought of an action that is even frightening or unpleasant, the surprising result is little resistance occurs. The action is now a straightforward thing to do. However, if sufficient resistance accrues against a specific materialization, the act of co-creation will determine another action to be implemented.

Resistance: The Blessing In Disguise

People can state that the desired results of a change project are unrealistic or impossible. Perhaps actions intended to produce a specific result have not brought that conclusion any closer. This can be frustrating, to the point where cessation of activity and questioning of the overall goal of the change may occur. When resistance is encountered blocking implementation of planned actions, it may be a blessing in disguise, however.

The blessing in disguise given by resistance is contrast. This contrast can provide indicators about where and how the creation needs to be refined to make it perfect for the situation. Clarity is key in change management initiatives. Instead of viewing resistance in change as a criticism, embrace it as input on how to optimize your change. View it as a welcome ingredient in the process of co-creation and successful change.

When friction and resistance is occurring between the executive level, line managers, and front line staff, co-creation consistently diffuses these symptoms. Should an organization that has traditionally conducted business through a top-down strategy suddenly and completely switch to a co-creative approach? Probably not. Gradual introduction of inclusion going forward is likely the best path of implementation. This is an alteration which should be made following substantial deliberation.

The idea that resistance in change is something that must be fixed, and that effort should be focused on finding smart ways to correct resistance, has been central to managing change. However, prevention is a better result and through the approach of co-creation the impact of inclusion will be felt positively all through the organization. This leads to much smoother implementations and transformations. Read more about Co-Creation here.

About the Author

Paul Brand is a management consultant working with global blue chip organizations such as Shell, Heineken, Sony, ABN AMRO Bank, Ahold, and EON. Evolving from an operations perspective, Paul’s focus moved into providing specific expertise on growing and nurturing the innate ability to change.

Paul leads organizations through the confusion of change management from “just another management methodology” to the understanding that change management is about the development of people. With his book, Change Your Mind, Change Your Business, Paul’s purpose is to dispel the common misunderstanding and even negativity surrounding change management, and how you can begin successfully applying it in your own environment.

For a free assessment of your own change management skill set, and more information about Paul’s book, Change Your Mind, Change Your Business, click here.

Why Fixing Resistance To Change Has Failed

Why Fixing Resistance To Change Has Failed—
And What To Do Instead: PART TWO

In Part 1, we looked at the key importance of resistance in change management projects. Resistance often arises as an unintended consequence of attempted change, even in situations where those responsible for carrying out the actions to achieve the change agree it is important and necessary.

While the major effort of change management technique has concentrated on developing intelligent ways to combat and go about fixing resistance to change, change expert Paul Brand has repeatedly demonstrated that preventing resistance is a far better approach.

The straightforward truth is this: when co-creation is ignored, resistance results.

The Perspective Shift That Transforms Change

With this perspective, “resistance” takes on a different appearance in the change process. Line employees cannot participate in the materialization of the change when they have not thought the thought. This is why including the people involved in and responsible for implementing the idea is essential. By involving them, resistance will be strongly reduced.

This is Co-Creation. Staff who work in the area where the idea is to be introduced will automatically care about it. If they feel bypassed or ignored, and they haven’t participated in the creation of the idea, resistance will result. However, by tapping into their natural self-interest and creativity, co-created solutions can result in not only better but significantly more easily implemented solutions.

“Neither the need for a change nor the quality of the idea have much effect on resistance.”

A fascinating conclusion is that neither the need for a change nor the quality of the idea have much effect on resistance. Ownership of the idea is the basic tool for eliminating resistance: as someone makes an idea their own, applying their own views to it, they can proceed to the action steps. There’s no need for fixing resistance to change in this case.

Ownership of Ideas Leads Directly to Change Success

Let’s return to the painting my house.

Despite the fact that I fully agree the paint job is necessary and important, the approach of ‘ambushing’ me with it at the end of the work day caused me to react with resistance.

Notice how the quality and urgency of the idea are unimportant at this moment. Since I was left out of the creation process, I’m resisting. This is the reality of day-to-day operations in many organizations.

Clearly attempts to counteract and attempt fixing resistance to change are not the answer. Yet this is where effort and energy are being put by companies. Efforts to persuade frequently result in raising resistance levels. What is called for is that step at the beginning: co-creation, allowing people to be part of the design of the solution, to be seen and heard.

Where do most companies put their attention on regarding change management technique? Overcoming resistance. As if resistance is something that must be fixed. Instead, Paul Brand has experienced better results by preventing resistance through co-creation.

Resistance Shows People Still Care

Resistance demonstrates that people still care. The danger is that it will evolve into indifference if left unaddressed. The source of their resistance often comes from having useful ideas about the topic. Resistance is therefore not necessarily a ‘bad’ thing, because it can indicate meaningful and enriching ideas are ready to be contributed to the solution.

Preventing and resolving resistance issues in change management initiatives will open a more effortless path towards the project’s success. Keep in mind those who became indifferent likely expressed their resistance earlier. They may have felt their ideas were not being acknowledged. “Bad” ideas that were not theirs may have been weighing them down in execution.

In Part 3, we’ll discover the unexpected “blessing in disguise” arising from encountering resistance in your change management projects. Read Part 3 here.

About the Author

Paul Brand is a management consultant working with global blue chip organizations such as Shell, Heineken, Sony, ABN AMRO Bank, Ahold, and EON. Evolving from an operations perspective, Paul’s focus moved into providing specific expertise on growing and nurturing the innate ability to change.

Paul leads organizations through the confusion of change management from “just another management methodology” to the understanding that change management is about the development of people. With his book, Change Your Mind, Change Your Business, Paul’s purpose is to dispel the common misunderstanding and even negativity surrounding change management, and how you can begin successfully applying it in your own environment.

For a free assessment of your own change management skill set, and more information about Paul’s book, Change Your Mind, Change Your Business, click here.

What To Do Instead of Fixing Change

What To Do Instead of Fixing Change: PART ONE

Let me share with you a critical observation and solution about managing change and “fixing change” that I have worked with for many years now.

The core of change management’s approach to resistance to implementation is seriously flawed. Until now, the core effort to handle resistance to change has been treating it as something that needs to be fixed. Yet an alternate approach is being worked with, and has been getting stellar results. The historical approach of finding smart ways to fix resistance, and thereby go about “fixing change” is far less effective than the approach explained here.

To explain the challenge with resistance in change management projects, let’s say my house needs the exterior paint to be redone. My wife and I know this. I even agree it’s important and a good idea.

I return home from work and it’s still light outside. My wife meets me at the door with a brush, paint, and sandpaper. “Paul, it’s nice today; please paint the house with me.”

The Unintentional Rise of Resistance

Despite the fact that I want the house painted, this approach has resulted in me feeling a great deal of resistance. I feel pressured and overridden. Though I may do the painting work—and I may refuse—I won’t get any pleasure from it and the end result will reflect that. Perhaps I will even deliberately sabotage my wife’s plan by doing such a poor job that she will insist we hire someone next time.

Meanwhile, my wife is bursting with enthusiasm for the project. She tries to motivate me. The painting needs to be done! It’s urgent! She has the best of intentions—and I get increasingly upset: I resist!

Failed change projects are significant blocks to the execution of strategy, contributors to erosion of company morale, and causes of financial losses. Resistance to change is also far more widespread a problem than many senior executives may know. So it’s no wonder that the notion of fixing change is a powerful one in management circles. What causes resistance in change management projects?

Resistance Close To Root Cause of Change Project Failures

Resistance is frequently listed as one of many symptoms of change initiative failure; however, it is closer to the root cause of failure than the others. In fact, resistance is a result of missing a critical step early on in the change management process. By ensuring this key action is taken, I have repeatedly demonstrated resistance can be dramatically lowered or eliminated, and this results in a much-improved opportunity for the initiative’s success.

A complete lack of resistance is surprisingly not the goal. Resistance can be a useful indicator of further opportunities for improvement. The problem is in the process. Leaders of change management projects are missing a vital element in their process, and that lacking piece is turning into the resistance they experience as the project proceeds.

The Problem to Fixing Change Is Within The Process

Many change initiatives are commanded into being from the executive level. The line employees who must carry out the change do not share in the idea, and this results in considerable frustration for them, their managers, and the executives responsible for the project. Line managers are often caught in the middle, between the friction of executive directives and front line feedback. When top-down-managed firms try to bypass the fundamental law at work here, they frequently fail. Money is not an effective incentive; resistance cannot be bought off.

So what is the missing factor? Co-Creation.

Co-Creation has two steps: a creation step, and a materialization step. When we want a cup of coffee, we first imagine it. Then we take the action steps to turn that idea into reality. But without the initial idea and the imagining of it, we could not execute the actions.

In the execution of change projects, if these simple laws of the creation process are being ignored, resistance and other issues will be the result.

In Parts 2 and 3, we’ll be investigating the necessary perspective shift required for a transformation in change management, as well as the surprising “blessing in disguise” coming from resistance in change projects. Read Part 2 here.

About the Author

Paul Brand is a management consultant working with global blue chip organizations such as Shell, Heineken, Sony, ABN AMRO Bank, Ahold, and EON. Evolving from an operations perspective, Paul’s focus moved into providing specific expertise on growing and nurturing the innate ability to change.

Paul leads organizations through the confusion of change management from “just another management methodology” to the understanding that change management is about the development of people. With his book, Change Your Mind, Change Your Business, Paul’s purpose is to dispel the common misunderstanding and even negativity surrounding change management, and how you can begin successfully applying it in your own environment.

For a free assessment of your own change management skill set, and more information about Paul’s book, Change Your Mind, Change Your Business, click here.

The Root of Doubt and Resistance In Change Projects

Doubt and resistance in change is disturbingly common. Three months have passed since the change program was supposedly completed, and handed over to you for managing continued implementation. And you seriously doubt you and your team can do it.

At first the program team was still there to support you and they kept the boat floating with the motivational initiatives they had planned for.

But now they are gone. The interventions have lost their effect. And now you and your front line team need to make it happen. You are responsible for generating the expected savings which where envisioned to be the result of this significant change initiative.

You feel alone. Doubt and resistance in change are taking over.

The new way of working is not quite a fit. Your new tools don’t have what it takes to truly make a difference in your business. They don’t match your team’s qualities and capabilities.

Who—be honest now—supports this new initiative? You don’t. Your people don’t.

Yet support is what’s needed: full support in its execution.

What is needed for this change program to succeed is the tweaking of it, every day, so that it will work.

But that opportunity is mostly gone. This initiative was pushed on you and your people whether you liked it or not. No matter how well you perform as a motivational leader, they are not going to suddenly start liking it one day.

What went wrong? You made it all the way to Director in the organization: how can it now seem that you have such little influence and control?

Doubt And Resistance In Change Management

The doubt leaders experience in implementing change management projects is natural. It’s not an indication of your willingness and ability, nor of your team’s.

One critical change management mistake underlies all the symptoms described above. You and your people have been included at too late a stage within the change program.

By fixing this one error, you’ll eliminate a number of symptoms like that feeling of lack of involvement, doubt and resistance in change, and commitment to the outcome.

So what are your options now, with this implementation that no one really wants? The change has been designed and implemented in detail. Some critical decisions have been made that you can not easily undo at this stage.

However, it is possible to make this change yours. By literally redesigning it according to the laws of the creation process, you can achieve that state of commitment to its implementation.

The solution is inclusion.

The Creation Process And Change Projects

Awareness of a simple underlying process defines the quality of any improvement initiative within your organization. This process is called the creation process.

Change initiatives can only become successful when the creation process has been applied consciously and successfully.

Anything in life comes into reality as a result of the creation process. Let’s use the example of creating a cup of coffee. This cup of coffee will only end up on your desk if you:

* First think the thought that you want a cup of coffee (the actual creation)

* Next, take the required action to materialize your idea (the materialization)

You have to think the thought of what you want before you can take action to materialize.

Yet what happens within organizations? Where much creation is done with groups of people, this process is frequently ignored.

In fact, individuals who are not aware of the creation process often determine the outcome of change programs.

Here’s why this is a serious problem: most changes are thought of by a small group of people, usually at the top of the organization.

The materialization of these changes becomes the responsibility of a different and larger group of people who have not been involved in the definition of the change. Those responsible for materialization did not think the creation thought!

Can you see how just as it’s impossible to get the cup of coffee if you have not first thought of that creation, you and your team cannot execute the actions required to materialize the thoughts of someone else?

It is the unawareness of this creation process which causes all sorts of symptoms within change programs and it’s execution.

So here is the solution: Co-Creation and Co-Materialization.

Create together, and materialize together.

Ensure that the group of people implementing the change have been involved in its creation.

The materialization actions in a creation cycle may only be carried out successfully when you first have thought the creative thoughts.

This is true first on a personal level, and then also when creation is done within a group.

Organizations not following the creation process experience resistance in their change projects.

Resistance In Change

The Root of Doubt and Resistance In Change Projects
Resistance is the number one symptom of change management problems that I have heard leaders complain about. And rightfully so. People often times resist a specific change: it can even take the form and shape of sabotage.

But what is the root cause of their resistance? It is not because they simply don’t want to change, or lack specific qualities to work differently.

Reality is much simpler. People resist when they have not been included in the design of a specific change.

One does not simply take part in the materialization of change when he has not been included in the design of that change. The creation process dictates that.

Regardless of how good you are at motivating people, leading people through change is an impossible job if they were not included in the creation step.

I have seen leaders judged as not having the capability to lead teams through change; painfully, this was an incorrect judgment. The truth was that the team had not been included in the change’s design.

Motivation And Change

You may have experienced this as a leader, as I have: people often get demotivated as a result of specific motivational efforts.

The more you put your energy into getting people to participate, the more they seem to resist. Even some of your best people will react this way.

Here’s why: whether they’re aware of it or not, their doubt and resistance in change comes from not being included in the design of the change.

Motivating people without giving them the opportunity to co-create results in resistance. Their core need of being included is not met.

When you motivate people to overcome their resistance without paying attention to their core need of inclusion, the resistance and frustration will only grow.

The Long Term View In Overcoming Doubt And Resistance In Change Projects

The most powerful step you can take to lead your organization is to apply the process of co-creation. Including your employees in the design phase will dramatically impact the quality of the change.

Consider ‘The Bad’ if you don’t adopt inclusion.

Organizations go through a tremendous number of changes. Those changes not shaped by co-creation result in a pile-up of poor to mediocre alterations which you and your people feel no inspiration to improve upon.

People end up operating with ways of working they simply do not support.

That obviously hurts your operation. Your daily operations end up being run in a negative atmosphere.

This sub-par performance itself becomes the cause for senior leadership to draw the conclusion that your operation needs to improve. Before you know it you are confronted with yet another new improvement initiative which increase the strain. And as it is not co-created will only deflate performance.

You can see the downward spiral. People become drained, and the quality of your operation declines quickly.

The ‘Good News’ of following the co-creation principle, is this:

By creating the change together by first designing it and then materializing it, all the previously untouched qualities and creativity of your team become available to you.

Even better, they will become sponsors of the change. After all, it is their idea. They will be motivated to prove that it will work. Their senses are open to include further optimizations and eliminate threats to this new way of working. Doubt and resistance in change will have evaporated.

Through co-creation, all the symptoms we saw above will disappear. Instead, you can shift your attention to growing your business, and making the best use of the quality of the people available to you. And you will be praised for it.



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© Paul Brand