You can’t make me change if I don’t want to! | Reflection Friday #7

How do you make people change and maybe even want to change?  

Chris –

Getting diction-focused, I wish to point out that “make” in the above question immediately created an adversarial context. Further, people cannot be made to change. I choose to refocus the question to, “How do I create the conditions to maximize the ability and willingness of people to change?” Research points the way for us. we now understand that factors leading to changed behavior can be categorized into personal, social, and structural. In each category are two questions, namely, is motivation to change present? Is the change possible? For personal, does the person wish to change? Does the person know what is required to change. For social, is the there peer pressure that can be accessed?  How many people can be brought in to help motivate the change? For structural, does the physical and time-management environment allow for change to take place? How can these environments be modified to create the “space” for change to happen? If you can answer four of the six questions in a positive way, then change is likely. If you cannot, then seek to change the environment first, then peers, then the individual.

Michael –

Seth Godin, who I know I over quote on this show, talks a lot about the resistance and how we must embrace it. If there is no resistance, then we are not doing real work. I generally use that excuse when people think I have a bad idea. Never mind, they might actually be right!

As technology coaches, we face a lot of resistance. Our job is to ask people to change how they are teaching and improve it.  Normal people think change is a bad idea (survival instinct I suspect) and naturally offer resistance.

As coaches, we have four choices when it comes to how we handle it:

  1. Blame the resistors for being resistors
  2. Blame the school for not having the right culture
  3. Blame the administrators
  4. Point the finger at ourselves to come up with a solution

I prefer solutions 1-3, because the fourth solution would require me to change how I look at things and… oh wait, I am a hypocrite!

Surely we have to work to find solutions to overcoming the resistance.  Personally I like the domino theory were you train one person and get them to change, then they encourage their friends.  We always listen to our peers more than we do authority.

Jamie –

I really need to figure out when Michael posts his reflection and write mine before he does, because he keeps stealing my thoughts…. or maybe he has just trained me to think like him over the past 2 years of podcasting…

Mike mentioned Seth Godin and he recently came out with a post that I think sums why we resist.   Seth Godin boils the whole issue down to one important question, “Do you want to get better?”  We all say we do, but do we really want to?  Getting better is hard, requires admitting faults, asking for advice and being open to failure.  All of those things are scary, but there is no way I will explain the idea as well as Seth Godin does, so let me just quote him:

But do you want to get better?

It seems like a stupid question. Of course we want our organization, our work and our health to improve.  But often, we don’t.

Better means change and change means risk and risk means fear.

So the organization is filled with people who have been punished when they try to make things better, because the boss is afraid.

And so the patient gets the prescription but doesn’t actually take all the meds.

And the bureaucrat feigns helplessness because it’s easier to shrug than it is to care.

There are countless ways to listen, to engage with users, to learn and to improve, but before you or your organization waste time on any of them, first the question must be answered, “do we want to get better?”

Really? We can tell.

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