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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.

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.

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