Whoa! There are at least 63 strategies for fear-lessly making change happen.
How do I learn all of them?
You are a budding leader of change!
Why not start by organizing a Fearless Change workshop...
You have an idea for a change or you have been appointed to lead a change. You want to make it happen, but where do you start? You may think you need a specific plan—however, a plan is much easier to create than to follow. This is because change happens one complicated and unpredictable person at a time-- you cannot be certain how quickly they will accept the new idea and be willing to take action. Therefore, rather than writing a detailed plan that may or may not work for the many different types of people you need to persuade, take a “learning cycle” approach. To do this, start with an Evolving Vision-- define your end goal. Then move forward with small, short-term Baby Steps towards making the vision happen. The learning cycle works like this: Define the first Baby Step in the form of a Concrete Action Plan milestone with measurable results and an end date. When this has been accomplished, take Time for Reflection—what went well, what didn’t, and what is your next step? Keep a Sustained Momentum with your next Baby Step... Time for Reflection… next Baby Step… Time for Reflection… you get it! Along the way, review your Evolving Vision at periodic times to determine if you need to change it (after all, this is why it’s called “evolving”). We don’t mean to make this sound easy. Change is not an event-- it is a process, and keeping your Sustained Momentum can be a long, arduous process. But you can maintain the morale and enthusiasm by celebrating the Small Successes along the way-- this helps you, and your team, focus on what you have accomplished rather than the many things you still need to do to make the change happen.
When the idea is new, everyone has a lot to learn. So it might be helpful to schedule an information session, perhaps in the form of a Brown Bag—invite people to bring their lunch and join an informal discussion. Use different methods to get the word out with Persistent PR and extend personal invitations with a Personal Touch to individuals who you'd really like to attend. Set expectations by explaining that it is only the beginning of the change process. You may wish to start with a Wake-Up Call to uncover the issues that are creating the need for change. Then, it can be fun and enlightening to engage everyone with an Imagine That exercise-- encourage them to think out loud as they talk about how things look now as well as how things could improve once the new idea is a reality. Suggest a Study Group to those who are interested in meeting regularly to learn more and explore the possibilities.
How do you build the team who will lead the change? Begin with Know Yourself—be honest about what you can’t do. Ask for Help from the Go-To Person(s) who have the skills you need. If you try to Involve Everyone, you will likely find eager people, such as Innovators, to fill the gaps because they enjoy new opportunities. Plan ahead so that you can suggest a Future Commitment to busy individuals. Every time you successfully Ask for Help, you strengthen the team and build the Group Identity around the new idea.
You may be tempted to seek help only from the people who immediately get excited about the new idea. Known as Innovators, they can help you jumpstart the change process, but you may not be able to depend on them for the long term because, well, they like change. Therefore, you need others who are open to evaluating the idea more carefully. Known as Early Adopters, they will take longer to convince but once you do, their reputation for sensible decision-making will position them as opinion leaders. An Early Adopter can become a Bridge Builder to others who may not be willing to listen to you. Connectors can help with this too—people who know many other people will help spread the word about the new idea. Also, enlist the support of a Guru on Your Side-- these individuals don't necessarily have a title but because they are liked and respected by people at all levels, they can help you increase the credibility for the idea. And, don’t forget the skeptics—people who politely complain because they want to make things better can become a Champion Skeptic who will help you identify how the idea can be improved.
Begin by creating your Elevator Pitch to introduce the new idea every time you get a brief opportunity. The few sentences can include a Wake-Up Call, the proposed solution, and the Evolving Vision. The purpose is to intrigue people to request more information—when they do, try adding a Hometown Story that stirs the imagination of your listener. Create an e-Forum to share updates, but keep talking too. Use a Personal Touch to answer questions and help individuals understand how the change will affect them personally. Hold periodic events such as an informal Brown Bag lunchtime discussion and a more structured Town Hall Meeting to report progress and solicit feedback. If you can Do Food, you are likely to increase the attendance. Look for opportunities to Piggyback with a few minutes on the agenda of meetings and other gatherings. People are busy so keep a Persistent PR-- design a variety of creative ways to periodically and consistently capture attention, inform, and remind people that the change is coming.
When you explain the new idea, you will likely see some nodding. This shows that listeners are starting to understand it... good work!... but it is only your first step. When we understand a new idea, this does not necessarily mean we are persuaded to accept it and take action. Humans are not completely rational beings-- we make our decisions, at least in part, on beliefs that often seem irrational to others—in other words, on how we feel. Therefore, you can’t simply provide logical “facts” and expect everyone to agree. You must also help people develop an Emotional Connection to the change. You can do this in many ways. When you share information, think about how you can include a Hometown Story, or an Imagine That exercise, that will be more memorable and inspirational than a random collection of facts. You can use a Personal Touch with any individual to discuss how the new idea will personally help him/her. And, since a change involves both gain and loss, provide a Shoulder to Cry On to recognize what people are losing. For the stubborn skeptics, ease the fear both of you are feeling with the Fear Less strategy—rather than trying to convince them, listen to their concerns. The skeptic will feel more respected and you may learn something you hadn't considered. Continue to Ask for Help and follow it with Sincere Appreciation-- when you extend invitations that Involve Everyone, you encourage people to feel they are a valuable part of building the exciting Group Identity around the change initiativ