Effective Business Problem Solving Part Two –
By: Rich Kramarik
leadership is about looking to the future with the ability to see around
corners, look through walls with x-ray vision, find the shine under the tarnish
and use this information to chart the course of the company. The CEO does this
by making strategic decisions that will ensure a viable future for the business
and by constantly tuning the organization to fit the current business
environment. The resulting drivers are the solutions discussed last month in
part one of Effective Problem Solving. The biggest challenge, however, is not
in identifying the correct solutions, but in convincing the employees that the
changes required to implement these solutions are essential and manageable.
Let’s face it –
we all know it. Most people become comfortable in their surroundings and the
natural tendency is to resist changing that comfort zone. The interesting
challenge is that all of us react differently to change. Among the reasons we
resist change are:
Fear of the unknown: This evokes
many emotions and reactions, most commonly anxiety. It is okay to be
anxious, but when your employees worry about things they can’t do anything
about – that’s called stress.
Fear of failure: No one wants to be
a failure. No one wants to get fired for making a mistake. Most employees
just want to do their job and be safe.
Difference of opinion: Employees
often have different points of view. They mostly just want to do their job
and go home. Employees are not normally thinking about company survival and
changes required to beat the competition.
Loss of power: All change creates
loss for someone or of something. In this sense, some employees may be
losing power and influence and therefore resist any change.
Lack of Trust: If the employees
don’t trust the CEO or company management, then there will be tremendous
resistance to change.
nature, the effective CEO initiates change by addressing the employee resistance
to change by using several possible strategies:
Company and Personal Advantage
Help the employees perceive the change as an improvement. Guide
them to see the value by facilitating the identification, organization and
interpretation of facts, opinions and or raw data surrounding the change. Have
them work on looking at what ways the change improves the business success or
the development and delivery of meaningful products and services. Show the
employees how their role fits into the new organization and way of doing
Help the employees understand in what ways the change is
consistent with past experiences, processes and/or present values. Review the
ways the change enhances traditional methods and approaches. Have employees
study how they can modify traditional methods to take advantage of new
opportunities that will become available because of the change.
Help the employees grasp how they can make the change easy to
implement for themselves and for each other. Have employees show how the change
will simplify complex work or processes. Have them work to discover how the
change will make it easier for your clients to do business with your company.
The more visible the change, the more likely the adoption will
be, so discover ways for how employees can provide opportunities for others to
see how well the change is working.
It is necessary to build sufficient knowledge as well as change
attitudes toward a new idea to influence the decision to adopt or reject a new
idea. Most people are influenced by the opinions of friends and colleagues who
have already accepted the changes. Lead, foster and allow communications on the
change. Encourage employees to adopt changes into their repertoire of
methodologies and make sure that the employees who are ready for change get
sufficient support to be successful and then give them the opportunity to model
their success for others.
People need time to understand new ideas, change attitudes and
make a decision to accept the change. CEOs must accept that radical change does
not happen over night. However, we must also make sure that we don’t put off for
tomorrow what we can and must change today.
In his book, “Crossing the Chasm,” on the topic of sales and marketing, Geoffrey
Moore talks about the different characteristics of buyers. He starts with the
“early adopters” and works his way through to the “late majority.” In a similar
way, Everett M. Rogers published his “Diffusion of Innovations” theory which
characterized the degree to which a person is open to change. Knowing how a
person is open to change can be a big help in initiating and accepting change.
Everett Rogers talked about:
Rogers says that innovators are the first 2.5 percent of
the population to adopt new ideas. They are intellectual risk takers who are
socially connected with other innovators. Innovators are daring and experimental
and have the ability to understand and apply complex technical concepts while
able to cope with a high degree of uncertainty.
Early Adopters make up the next 13.5% of the population. They
tend to be a more integrated part of the organization than the innovators.
Friendships are often made and they are highly influential in developing similar
opinions among their colleagues. They serve as a role model for their friends
and colleagues since they are well respected by their peers. They are the
embodiment of successful, discrete users of new ideas. They decrease uncertainty
about a new idea by adopting it, and then convey subjective evaluation of the
innovation to their peers through interpersonal networks.
The Early Majority
The Early Majority makes up the next 34% of the population and
they usually adopt new ideas just before the average members of the
organization. They interact frequently with their peers, and although they
exercise less influence with peers they do provide interconnectedness in the
organization's interpersonal networks. Members of the early majority take their
time adopting new ideas. They follow with deliberate willingness in adopting
innovations, but do not generally consider themselves agents of change.
The Late Majority represents the next 34 percent of the
population to adopt new ideas. They are likely to respond to increasing network
pressures from peers, but they approach innovations with a skeptical and
cautious air. The late majority does not adopt change until most others in their
system have done so because they require the pressure of peers for motivation.
The Resisters make up the last 16% of the population to
adopt innovative changes. They influence few opinions and are often somewhat
isolated. They usually make decisions based on what has been done previously and
are suspicious of both innovations and change agents. Resisters often see
themselves as having limited resources and they must be certain that a new idea
will not fail before they can adopt it.
Everett Rogers' work suggests that change becomes self-sustaining
when about 15 or 20 percent of an organization accepts it. Early adopters are
the most influential agents for change because they have links to both the
innovators and the more conservative groups. We might think that acceptance by
the majority is an indicator that changes have been fully integrated, but the
job isn't done until the resisters are won over.
In summary, human nature is to avoid change. CEOs and management
resist initiating change even when it’s in the best interest of the company.
There are several strategies that we can use to ease initiation and acceptance
of change. And, finally the CEO can target the innovators and early adopters to
drive faster and more successful change. This article highlighted the
strategies and theories. If you need help perfecting your ability to have your
decisions accepted and implemented, call Paladin and Associates.
Effective Business Problem Solving – Initiating Change Case Study
By: Rich Kramarik
businesses are people intensive, it should be no surprise that the place we see
the most resistance to initiating change is dealing with the poor performing
One: The CEO’s administrative assistant had to be told every specific thing
that needed to be completed. If she wasn’t told, bank deposits didn’t get made,
shipments didn’t get sent, copier toner didn’t get ordered, and phone messages
didn’t get recorded. The staff complained that the administrative assistant was
hurting their productivity and customer satisfaction. Clients told the CEO
about troubling experiences with the assistant. The CEO was so frustrated on
some days that he was totally distracted away from his work. But, he couldn’t
initiate the change. He couldn’t bring himself to release the assistant. After
several months of this “torture,” he asked for our help.
expressed his concern over making the change as one of how would the work get
done if he released her. It would take time to find a replacement and then more
time to train the new person. His view was all this would be harder than living
with the poor performer. We helped him put a plan in place to hire a new person
for a related position who could over lap with the administrative assistant and
learn her duties as well as the duties of the other position. Then when the new
person was trained, the administrative assistant could be released. He felt
comfortable enough with this plan that he tried it. The problem was solved.
Change initiated by using the strategies in the main article of this news
Two: The CEO needed a solid performing sales manager. Sales were OK, but
not as good as they should be when compared to the competition. Company growth
depended on a new spurt of sales growth. To make a long story short, the CEO
hired and released three sales managers over a period of a year. She was now on
her fourth. She asked for our help.
sales managers were never accepted by the rest of the staff. They never really
got the help and support of the rest of the company. Clearly that was a two
sided problem – everyone, the sales managers included, was being a bit thick
headed. Each sales manager the CEO hired was a decision made by the CEO alone.
The fourth sales manager didn’t make it either.
the CEO hired the next one we suggested getting the rest of the staff involved
in the hiring decision. The CEO had the staff discuss and decide market focus,
review opportunity by market, discuss and decide what markets had the best long
term opportunity, and more. Then the CEO involved the key management and staff
in the interview process and decision on which candidate to hire for the sales
manager position. Again, using the strategies from the main article of this
newsletter, the CEO was able to find success in initiating change. The next
sales manager was accepted by the staff and everyone was rowing the boat in the
same direction from the day the new sales manager was hired.
Three: Often initiating change has nothing to do with staffing. In this
example the CEO was a victim of what I call analysis paralysis. The CEO never
initiated a change because he just kept finding new alternatives or
opportunities to study. At one point I made a list of all the items under study
by the company. The list filled two pages. This was clearly too diluted a
focus. The CEO was asking us how to get growth going again, because he could
not see what was preventing company growth. In a sense the CEO was using some
of the strategies from the main article in this newsletter, but he was going
overboard. We helped him cut the two page list down to the three top priority
items and got the CEO and the rest of the company focused on these three.
Within a short four months they were making decisions, implementing changes and
found that lost growth.
Brought to you by:
Bob De Contreras
RTBA | Cary | Greensboro | Raleigh | Research Triangle Park | North Caroliina
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