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This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Friday, October 03, 2003

The Psychology of Change Management -- From The McKinsey Quarterly...
Employees will alter their mind-sets only if they see the point of the change and agree with it—at least enough to give it a try. The surrounding structures (reward and recognition systems, for example) must be in tune with the new behavior. Employees must have the skills to do what it requires. Finally, they must see people they respect modeling it actively. Each of these conditions is realized independently; together they add up to a way of changing the behavior of people in organizations by changing attitudes about what can and should happen at work.
Unsurprisingly, these four conditions map very nicely to a model that we in the Theory of Constraints community refer to as the Six Layers of Resistance to buy-in...

Layer One - Lack of agreement on the problem.
Layer Two - Lack of agreement on a direction for a solution.
Layer Three - Lack of agreement that the solution addresses the full problem.
Layer Four - Concerns regarding side effects of the solution.
Layer Five - Concerns regarding obstacles to implementation of the solution.
Layer Six - Unspoken fears.

Defining and implementing a solution requires not just the technical aspects of the problem, but also the ability to bring stakeholders and necessary participants through the Six Layers. In the McKinsey article, the first condition of seeing the point of the change and agreeing with it sufficiently to give it a shot is clearly the broadest, requiring getting through the first four layers. Without agreement on a problem, there's no point talking about a change. Even if everyone recognizes the problem, it may be so ingrained that it's seen as the nature of doing what we do, with no real way of dealing with it. A direction is one thing, but if people are going to be brought to agree with it, a whole lot of dotted i's and crossed t's are needed. Finally, if one sees the proposed solution as a possible trigger of something worse, there will be foot dragging.

The second condition of the article -- surrounding structures "in tune" with the new policies, processes, and desired behaviors -- reflects some of the aforementioned I's and t's. New policies, metrics, and rewards are necessary to assure that the desired behaviors are achieved or to reinforce beneficial results of other tactics. Condition three -- employee skills -- or rather, the lack of necessary skills is one of the obstacles of layer five.

Finally, one of the toughest layers of resistance, if it appears, is number six -- unspoken fear, often fear of "going it alone." Especially for changes that involve considerable culture change -- major changes in behavior -- being the first out of the trenches and out into no-man's-land can be a daunting experience. While the first five layers can be largely dealt with through clarity of thought and communication, the best means of moving people out of their fear is through leadership. And leadership is about, as the McKinsey article suggests, modeling and supporting the desired behaviors.

(A tip o' the hat to Jack Vinson for the link.)

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