Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Change or Die: Implications for Trainers and Consultants

On a professional listserv I subscribe to, I recently learned of a May 2005 Fast Company article by Alan Deutschman entitled: Change or Die.

When I have offered a workshop or facilitated an organizational development intervention with a client, change is absolutely a desired outcome. Whether a workshop or an intervention, the goal is to develop and support a new behavior that improves or increases organizational or individual performance/effectiveness.

What's powerful about the Fast Company article is that it's telling us that we cannot assume that change will occur just because we convey information, even if that information makes it painfully clear that without change, one will die (or its business equivalent).

The following bulleted items are the characteristics the author felt need to be in place for change to occur. The conversation I would like to have here is how do we as trainers or consultants incorporate or adopt these characteristics in our work with clients? (In my new position at Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, we are engaging grantmakers in how to change their way of doing business in order to be more effective grantmakers.)

Here are the characteristics the author said need to be in place for change to result from learning:

  • Speak to people's feelings, describing problems/solutions in ways that influence emotions, not just thought;
  • Recast / reframe the reasons for change away from something frightening to think about (in this case, death) to a new vision for living. "Joy is a more powerful motivator than fear." [I thought this shed some additional light on why the practice of Appreciative Inquiry has been gaining in popularity-- it focuses on the positive, not the negative.]
  • The story must be simple, easy to identify with, emotionally resonate, and evocative of positive experiences.
  • Radical, sweeping, comprehensive changes are often easier for people than small, incremental ones. [This one surprised me the most.]
  • Identify, achieve and celebrate quick, positive results for the vital emotional lifts they provide; "without sufficient wins that are visible, timely, unambiguous, and meaningful to others, change efforts invariably run into serious problems."
  • Support the change; give support where needed.
  • Grease the brain's machinery for learning by having employees engage in "mental rejuvination" activities from learning a new language or musical instrument to spending a day a week working at a different function in their job!

Missing from this list is Peter Hunter's point that
conditions of ownership also need to be present in order for change to happen.

So how do you design your workshops or consulting interventions such that they will result in CHANGE?


Pamela McAllister said...

I just came across your blog and share your interest in the intersections of which you write. Your mention of appreciative inquiry here caught my eye.

You may be interested in Tailwinds, a blog I co-author. It's grounded in appreciative inquiry with special applications and adaptations to the NGO sector -- fundraising and philanthropy, organization development, communications, social change, and related topics. (Btw, we have an entirely different take on fundraising from the norm in the field, which I see from one of your earlier posts might interest you.)

Thanks and I look forward to reading your blog regularly.

Astha said...

The Appreciative Inquiry/Positive model is great at creating inspiration, generating positive energy and focusing it.
But the thing about change is, it involves changing habits, some of which people have formed over long periods of times. Habits have a quirk about them, you kill the 'H' and 'A BIT' gets left, you kill the 'A' and the 'BIT' is still left, you kill the 'B' and you still gotta deal with 'IT'. Moral of the story, habits can only be replaced by new habits, which take repeated effort. (My Dad told me this as I grew up and it stayed coz I've found it to be so true)
But it's not impossible- it just takes persistent hard work. And yes all the patience, inspiration and understanding.

Jillaine Smith said...

I just heard from the original author of the "Change or Die" article. Alan Deutschman, who is also a senior writer for Fast Company, has expanded the original article into an entire book by the same name. It was just published two weeks ago by Harper Collins. Check it out. I'm going to.

-- Jillaine
20 January 2007

AlvaroF said...

the book is as good as the article.

we decided to profile it in the brain fitness blog carnival

btw, just came accross this blog by chance, and we do have many interests in common. will pay another visit when I have some extra time...