This is the 6th post in a 7-part series on how to get a team to implement your recommendations.
Now for Tip #6. The context is that you want to see your recommendations implemented. How can you present them to a team so that they will be acted on and not dismissed?
Tip #6: Point out the consequences of the Status Quo — When you are asking people to listen to and follow your recommendations you are essentially asking them to change their course. They were perhaps standing still, or even if they were moving, they were rolling along on one track. Now you are asking them to get going on a different track. Change is not easy.
Inertia is powerful — As Newton’s first law of motion says, it can be hard to get people moving once they’ve stopped.
Movement in a particular direction is powerful too — Physics also teaches us that once a body is in motion in one direction it will keep going that way unless something hits it and gets it going in another direction. In order to get people to move in a diferent direction, or move at all, you have to jolt them out of their curent state. There are a few options about how you do this:
Show them the consequences of staying still. If they don’t do anything differently, what is the result? You’d think people would have thought this through, but often they haven’t. For example, let’s say that a product is hard to learn and so there are many calls to the help desk after it is released. You’ve pointed this out, but people are still not willing to make the changes you are recommending. You’ve already shown them how you can make the product easier to use. Instead, focus on what happens if they keep the product the way it is. Calculate how many calls to the help desk that really means in a month. Calculate the % turn over each month, or the new people coming on board. Show that there will be an xx% increase in calls over a 1 year period. Make it concrete.
Make use of a catastrophe. It’s unfortunate, but true, that sometimes it takes a catastrophe to get people to change course. If a catastrophe happens, make use of it. That is the time to speak up. One of my clients had been trying to get an online form improved, but no one was willing to spend the time and money to fix it. She worked at a large insurance company that owned commercial property. The form was for appraisers. They would go online and fill out an appraisal form. That appraisal form would be used to compute the selling price of a large commercial building. Because the form was hard to use, the appraisers sometimes entered incorrect information that led to a property being appraised at an incorrect value. Someone would later review the appraisals, realize that there was an error, and the mistake would be corrected. But one day an appraiser filled out the form incorrectly and the building sold the next day before anyone noticed or fixed the error. The company lost several million dollars overnight. It was a catastrophe, and my client seized the opportunity. She said, “NOW we are going to fix this form!” Inertia was gone.
What do you think? Have you been using any of these techniques to overcome inertia or change course?