Changing people’s attitude toward change

Posted by chandni - November 5, 2007
Filed in Changing behaviour, Collaboration

Collaboration brings with it change and complexity and uncertainty. How are we going to do this? What will happen next? Why should we work like that?… are some of the questions that mark the beginning of a collaborative project. It’s all a state of mind! A matter of perspective.
I’m Chandni and I’m new at Anecdote. My first blog is about my experience in managing collaboration and change and an interesting technique – a 10-second test!
To pursue my passion for knowledge, narratives, complexity, people, culture, and change, I’ve flown all the way from UK (where I did my MBA) via Mumbai (India, where I am originally from) to Canberra. My journey at Anecdote started on October 22 and I’m having a great time doing what I really love.
In my previous roles (as Chief Knowledge Developer and Head of the Knowledge Initiative at an ITeS company), I always thought that bringing about change in the culture was a simple thing. Our workforce was young and spirited and we were innovative and had an open working environment…what could be difficult about that?
Well, I was obviously very wrong and spent a few years figuring out why some people share what they know quite easily, some literally ‘find’ obstacles and put them in the way or some simply don’t want to be disturbed. So I divorced the explicit aspect and started exploring the social aspects of knowledge-sharing behavior, and in talking to people I discovered that narratives have a unique power that often remains untapped. Aligning the right technique to the right situation, that’s where the trick lies. I’m guilty of missing target too!
Let’s change that.
At Anecdote, we continuously seek and design techniques to deal with the complexity within organizations by understanding the ‘story behind the story’. What stories are people saying about an event or experience in their workplace?
Now, (this is my MBA talking) a lot has been said about how denial is the first stage in change management. And collaboration initiatives are a big change for people sometimes. BUT the more important aspect is that there are reasons and stories that form this denial in people’s minds.
Here’s an interesting technique I stumbled upon on Ken Thompson’s blog. He has some good collaboration techniques listed, but this one is a great insight. He calls it a 10 second test to assess people’s reaction to change.

How can you quickly find out what each team member’s number one concern is about working in this scenario?
Dr Lewis recommends you get each of them to repeat the following 5 words out loud without thinking about it too much:
“We can’t do that here”
Listen carefully to which of the five words they stress – if its:
We – they are worried about their Identity
Can’t – they are worried about their beliefs and values
Do – they are worried about their skills
That – they are worried about their behavior
Here – they are worried about the environment

It might then be useful to probe the domains the participants seem most concerned about using anecdote circles to collect stories about the concerns that in fact may be the cause of their resistance or concern.
When you try it out, let us know how it went for you. We’d be happy to hear your story ☺

4 Responses to “Changing people’s attitude toward change”

  1. Nerida Hart Says:

    Chandni
    Great post – I love the 10 second test – our subconcious shows up in the most amazing ways. Now that we have seen it hopefully any participants will not manipulate the results 8-)
    Cheers
    nerida

  2. Tushar Panchal Says:

    Chandni,
    change is always difficult, either organiastional or personal. As humans we tend to smooth out the edges in life that prevents change in our lives. Hence, it is embedded in human behaviour (at least I believe from an evolutionary prespective) that change should only occur when needed rather than for IT to happen, i.e. we would still be great apes if something didn’t prompt us and provoke us to explore walking on earth on two feet. It is essential that to drive sustainable change, one needs a very strong reason to believe in.
    Secondly, change is usually driven by the senior management. As such, more often then not the intentions of senior management are, rightly or wrongly, interpreted by the actual workers of the company as something that is eventually going to benefit the senior management and not them.
    Thirdly, any change management undertaken without explaining to the majority in simple terms why the change is needed and what we need to do to make the change happen will not help. This is because change is always represented (and perceived) as something that impacts the bottom-line of the company/organisation. Hence, it is crucial to humanise the change aspect by impacting on people with statements that they believe will help them fulfil personally and socially at their workplace..not something that is going to drive profits.
    Finally, apologies for the long post.

  3. Chandni Kapur Says:

    Thanks, Nerida. I look forward to hearing about your experience with the technique :-)
    Thanks, Tushar, for sharing your thoughts on how change impacts and in fact should impact people’s attitude. Just the process of sharing stories and listening to other people’s stories brings about great emotional energy and morale. And it helps people formulate their beliefs and understand their environment better – become perhaps more accepting, I think.

  4. Tenders Says:

    Thanks for interesting article, Chandni.
    Changes are not easy for most people.