Have you ever had a flash of insight − a bright idea − that would help your company earn millions. And when you told management about the idea that resonated with you like a tuning fork, all you received was a stare so vacant it seemed like the mortgage company had foreclosed on your boss’s brain.
Yep, you can lead a horse of course to water, but no matter how thirsty that darn ol’ horse gets, you can’t make him think. Well, no need to feel sad. This has happened to all the great change agents. Heck, do you think Steve Jobs would have become the Zen master of presentation demos if people had simply acted on his word when he was a young business man. Not likely.
So instead of spending a lifetime learning the tricks and techniques that produce change in your life and the world around you, simply read Chip and Dan Heath’s new book: Switch − How To Change Things When Change Is Hard.
The book is filled with wisdom. I would need to write a book to review all the great points so let’s touch three:
• Bright Spots
• Shrink the Change
• Find the Feeling
Bright spots are successful efforts worth emulating. Imagine that you run a business with a large sales team and two saleswomen are selling 20 times more of a miracle drug for asthma than their coworkers. Like a football coach you analyze the sales film and discover the women are successful because unlike their peers who are selling the benefits, these two all-stars are eliminating roadblocks by teaching doctors how to administer the drug.
After seeing the bright spot, management teaches the sales technique to the rest of the team... Now they’re able to tackle the tough accounts. That’s the story of Genetech and its drug Xolair. To learn more about Bright Spots read Fast Company’s book review.
Shrink the Change
Shrinking change helps motivate people because the joy of small successes snowballs to grand victories. Let’s consider Dave Ramsey’s debt-fighting technique − the “Debt Snowball.” List all your debts from smallest to largest. Instead of trying to pay off the debt with the highest interest rate, pay off the smallest debt first. So if your smallest debt was an $82 overdue electric bill, you’d pay that off first. After you cross off the $82 debt your money snowballs to pay off the next smallest debt.
We’re not solving a linear equation problem with this approach, we’re solving a motivation problem. When the $82 debt is dead and gone, you’re able to plant the flag of victory over one debt skirmish, proving you have the power to win the debt war.
UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, “When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur.”
It’s funny to me when a company posts a job description for managers who can multitask. Does HR really think multitasking is a skill? The problem with juggling multiple tasks is that people don’t accomplish much of anything. Instead, it’s best to drive a stake through a project, complete it, and put it behind you. When you do this, your mind is able to focus all its energy on the next task and feel the momentum.
Remember that basketball game you watched where a great shooter missed his first 6 shots and then when he scored on an easy layup, he swished the next seven long-range jumpers. He found the touch, he found the feeling.
Find the Feeling
Finding the feeling is the key to helping your associates embrace change. Because in most successful change efforts the sequence is not Analyze-Think-Change, instead the correct combination is See-Feel-Change. And demonstrations are the best method to get people to see and feel.
Target wasn’t always a retailer with fashionable products. The authors credit people like Robyn Waters, a trend manager at Target, for transforming Target through demonstrations. I love the fact that she used all kinds of demonstrations. To show the power of color in design, Robyn poured brightly colored M&Ms into a glass bowl, causing her coworkers to savor the delicious colors. For another demo, she set up a display that showed how a blue polo shirt popping with pigment captured your eye. In another, she displayed iMacs and let people explore Apple’s design aesthetics.
Why did a bunch of demonstrations at Target make a difference? Before Waters created the demos, she thought carefully about what her colleagues would see, knowing there’s a connection between what you see and what you feel. She found a way help people see the problem in ways that influence emotions, not just thoughts.
Demos are bright spots that make it easy for others to clone and model behavior, demos also have a story component that sparks action. Even if the story is mostly subtext, the story will speak to your subconscious in a way that's more powerful than any spreadsheet or PowerPoint.
Remember, whether you are marketing to employees or customers, Proof is powerful. Proof encourages creativity and hope.
Resources: For resources related to Switch, visit the author’s website.