Superheating Change

This post requires reader participation! Please read the following story and then share in the comments how we can apply it to change:

This morning, I was heating up water in the microwave to prepare some instant oatmeal for breakfast. I put the water in a glass measuring cup and set the timer for 2:30 minutes.

The microwave beeped and I opened the door to retrieve the water. Except there were no telltale bubbles at the surface to indicate that it was, in fact, boiling. Odd, since that is usually plenty of time. I closed the door and added 30 more seconds.

After half that time, I heard a loud bang, and then water started to drip out of the microwave. I opened the door and half the water had been ejected out of the container in a violent explosion. It surely would have left me seriously injured had I been near it.

Normally, to boil water, heat is applied to (or in the case of the microwave, generated within) the water until the water reaches 100°C (212°F), at which point the water will start turning to gas. The bubbles rise to the surface and are released into the air as steam. For as long as the water is boiling, it will remain at 100°C until it is all turned to steam.

Except, in order for the bubbles to form, there need to be imperfections, sites within the water that allow the bubbles to form. These are either impurities within the water, or small imperfections on the surface of the container. Without the imperfections, the bubbles do not form, and boiling does not occur.

If the water does not boil, the temperature will continue to rise above the boiling point. It will become superheated. At that point, if something does trigger boiling to start, it will happen all at once, causing an explosion.

As I sat down to breakfast, after counting my lucky stars, cleaning up the microwave, and adding a few granules of sugar to the water the second time around, I started to think about the parallels of boiling/superheating water and implementing change in organizations. Some questions came to mind:

  • Is it possible to superheat change?
  • How is implementing change like the normal boiling process, and how is it like superheating?
  • Could change happen both ways, and what are the implications?
  • How does the concept of impurities and imperfections fit into organizational change?

Please share your questions, answers and other aha’s that you had while reading this story in the comments below.

Design and Communicate Change webinar: April 23

To influence change across an entire organization requires designing tools, programs and systems to move groups of people in the right direction. These elements help communicate, enable, and motivate change.

Your job as change agent is to select the proper tools to influence change, customize them to suit your organization and initiative, and keep track of all the moving parts – and their affect on the change. One essential method you will use is communication, which happens whether you design it or not.

Join me on April 23, 2014 for the fourth webinar in the 5-part Design & Influence Irresistible Change™ series. You’ll learn the five fundamental levers of influence and how you can apply them to design change, and you’ll gain a four-step approach with templates to effectively plan communication that drives change.

 

Webinar:
Design and Communicate Change

April 23, 2014
1:00 – 2:30 pm Eastern

$75

register

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • A wide variety of methods you can use to influence and support groups of people during the change
  • The five fundamental levers of influence and how you can use them to select and design the methods to change your organization
  • The steps to creating an aligned and audience-centric communication plan.

Along with your participation in this live webinar, you will also receive PDF and MS PowerPoint templates you can use immediately to implement what you’ve learned.

This webinar is the fourth in the Design & Influence Irresistible Change™ Webinar Series.

ICwebinarnodate

In this 5-part webinar series, you will learn the steps and gain the tools to both design change in advance so it has the best chance of succeeding and influence change as you go so your initiative can keeping going even when it hits those inevitable bumps along the way.

Winter/Spring 2014 Schedule

Date Topic Price Register
January
29
Define the Change
Clarify what really needs to change in order to achieve the desired results for your organization.
$75 Closed
February
26
Uncover and Reduce Resistance
Anticipate how people will react to change so you can reduce backlash, and handle resistance when it happens.
$75 Closed
March
26
Gain Leadership Support
Navigate the roles and relationships of change to get leaders to help you implement change.
$75 Closed
April
23
Design and Communicate Change
Create the structural elements that will drive change and develop a plan to pinpoint communication.
$75
May
21
Sharpen Your Influence
Leverage your personal power and develop the skills to make an impact with both individuals and groups.
$75
FULL SERIES Attend all 5 webinars for a discount, PLUS you get the Irresistible Change Guide™ workbook, an additional $175 value, for just the cost of shipping!
$550
$298

View CartNote: All events start at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Feel free to gather a small group to watch the webinar(s) together. However, each registration for the complete series comes with only one Irresistible Change Guide™ workbook. If you would like to purchase additional workbooks, you may add them to the shopping cart here.

Need to get funding approved to attend this series? Download a brochure here.

The Cycle of Uncertainty and Three Steps to Break Out of It

Are there questions you’re avoiding asking at work because you don’t want to know the answer?

Perhaps the actions of a leader in your organization make you doubt their commitment to the change, but instead of asking where they stand, you get frustrated by their inconsistency. Or perhaps a colleague seems to be encroaching on your area, but rather than ask, you find yourself protecting your turf. You see ambiguous events unfold, and rather than find out what’s really happening, you jump to conclusions instead, and act as if they’re true.

It happens to all of us. The path we follow to get to the point where we avoid the certainty we wish we had goes something like this:

  1. cycle of uncertaintyIn the face of uncertainty, we react to events by filling in the gaps in our understanding with the worst-case scenario. Preparing for the worst possible interpretation of events allows us to protect ourselves. Unfortunately, it ends up increasing the perceived threat.
  2. In light of the worst-case possibility we play in our minds, we become defensive and start building up walls around us. We interpret subsequent events in a way that supports the worst case and shuts out other, more benign possibilities.
  3. Fearing the worst, we avoid finding out what’s really going on. Questions that would clarify the situation go unasked, just in case what we fear is really true. It’s probably not, but we’d rather not risk it. Staying in the dark only perpetuates the uncertainty.

This is the Cycle of Uncertainty, and it may be the thing that prevents your change initiative from moving forward. Take a look in the mirror – where are you not gaining clarity because you’re afraid of what you’ll hear? Where are you deliberately keeping yourself in the dark?

Fortunately, there are three steps you can take to break the Cycle of Uncertainty:

Check Your Assumptions

When you discover yourself avoiding asking questions because you’re afraid of the answer, it’s time to check your assumptions. Ask yourself:  What do you know for sure? What don’t you know? What assumptions have you made to fill in the gaps of your understanding? Separate the fact from the fiction.

Choose Alternate Assumptions

Once you identify the stories you’ve made up to try to reduce your uncertainty, you can search for an alternate story that will help you move forward. How else could you interpret the facts? What other possibilities might fill in the gaps? How would you act if they were true? Select the assumptions that help you move forward. Since you’re making them up anyway, you might as well pick the ones that are enabling not disabling.

Pursue Clarity

Even with new assumptions, uncertainty is still the real problem. Armed with more positive interpretations of the situation, though, you no longer need to fear the worst. If the information exists that would reduce your uncertainty, then pursue clarity. What analysis would illuminate the real story? What questions could you ask that would reduce your uncertainty? If you can gain clarity by having a conversation, it’s time to have it. In times of uncertainty, we need to build relationships, not walls.

As a change agent, it’s important to recognize when you are trapped in the Cycle of Uncertainty. If you don’t, you’ll act out of fear instead of confidence. So, raise your awareness of being stuck in uncertainty, and choose hope over anxiety. Then, for others in your organization who are struggling with uncertainty, you can break the cycle by helping them check their assumptions, choose alternate ones, and pursue clarity where it exists.

Favorite Quotes from ACMP’s 2014 Conference

This week I attended the Association of Change Management Professionals’ 2014 Global Conference.  While I’m still processing everything I learned, I thought I’d share a few of the great quotes I heard.

“If you haven’t cried on the floor of your office, you’re not doing your job.”  Dean Anderson

“Start with ‘D’. ‘D’ is the key to change management. ‘D’ stands for ‘DONUTS’.” Levi Nieminen

“I got my doctorate in organizational behavior and then discovered that it doesn’t exist. Organizations don’t behave, people behave.” Rodger Dean Duncan

“Play the music in your heart not the music you think the client wants to hear.” Daryl Conner

“Change capacity is like a sponge. When it gets full, projects spill out. The trouble is you don’t know which ones.” Linda Hoopes

What great quotes did I miss? Please share it in the comments!

Interview: Modernizing Change Management with Agile and Lean Practices

Jason Little, author of Lean Change Management, joins the show this month to discuss his collection of innovative practices for managing organizational change. He combines ideas from many communities, including the Lean Startup, Agile and Lean worlds, to create an adaptable and scalable model for managing the complexity of change in today’s world.

Listen to the show here (30 minutes):

Be sure to visit the radio show page to listen to past episodes and subscribe to the show.

March 26 Webinar: Gain Leadership Support

When it comes to your project, do leaders and managers in your organization do things that make you cringe? Do you wish they’d do more to support your change initiative… and stop doing things that work against it?

To implement change, you need more than just lip service from leaders. You need visible, consistent support in the form of day-to-day activities that reinforce change. Without the continual support of leaders, change fizzles out.

Gaining leadership support is perhaps the most vital task you are responsible for as a change agent. And yet, because of organizational politics and differences in authority, it can also be the most challenging thing you have to do.

Join me on March 26, 2014 for the third in the 5-part Design & Influence Irresistible Change™ webinar series, and you’ll learn a straightforward approach to understanding the roles and relationships of change, and gain templates and exercises to help you and your colleagues gain the support you need from those who have the ability to make or break your project.

Webinar:
Gain Leadership Support

March 26, 2014
1:00 – 2:30 pm Eastern

$75

register

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • How to navigate the different roles and relationships of change
  • Whose support you really need, and who you ignore at your own risk
  • The five levels of leadership support, and how to tell which level you have and which you need
  • An approach for gaining the support you need.

Along with your participation in this live webinar, you will also receive PDF and MS PowerPoint templates you can use immediately to implement what you’ve learned.

This webinar is the third in the Design & Influence Irresistible Change™ Webinar Series.

ICwebinarnodate

In this 5-part webinar series, you will learn the steps and gain the tools to both design change in advance so it has the best chance of succeeding and influence change as you go so your initiative can keeping going even when it hits those inevitable bumps along the way.

Winter/Spring 2014 Schedule

Date Topic Price Register
January
29
Define the Change
Clarify what really needs to change in order to achieve the desired results for your organization.
$75 Closed
February
26
Uncover and Reduce Resistance
Anticipate how people will react to change so you can reduce backlash, and handle resistance when it happens.
$75 Closed
March
26
Gain Leadership Support
Navigate the roles and relationships of change to get leaders to help you implement change.
$75
April
23
Design and Communicate Change
Create the structural elements that will drive change and develop a plan to pinpoint communication.
$75
May
21
Sharpen Your Influence
Leverage your personal power and develop the skills to make an impact with both individuals and groups.
$75
FULL SERIES Attend all 5 webinars for a discount, PLUS you get the Irresistible Change Guide™ workbook, an additional $175 value, for just the cost of shipping!
$550
$298

View CartNote: All events start at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Feel free to gather a small group to watch the webinar(s) together. However, each registration for the complete series comes with only one Irresistible Change Guide™ workbook. If you would like to purchase additional workbooks, you may add them to the shopping cart here.

Need to get funding approved to attend this series? Download a brochure here.

20 Reasons Your Organization is Immune to Change

Organizations have a way of maintaining the status quo through reinforcing the old way of doing things and discouraging the new way. Even with sufficient communication and training, individuals still may not do things differently, because the organization (or really everyone else within it) somehow prevents them from changing.

If your change is not getting the results you expect, it could be that the following things are going on in your organization:

  1. Attempts to discuss the need for change are met with awkward silence.
  2. When people try the new behavior, their peers tease them.
  3. Managers express irritation when efficiency slides as employees experience a learning curve.
  4. When people do change, their supervisor ignores their accomplishment.
  5. When an employee keeps doing things the old way, no one addresses it.
  6. One employee sees another getting away with not changing, thinks it’s unfair, and decides he isn’t going to do it either.
  7. Employees get recognized for achieving results, even though they got it done the old way.
  8. Those who express concern or hesitation about change are labeled “resisters” and treated as adversaries.
  9. Out of deference to authority, employees do not provide feedback or offer differing ideas to managers.
  10. People who want to get involved in the change project are considered by their supervisors as too valuable to participate.
  11. Leaders provide information on a “need to know” basis, leaving much of the change shrouded in mystery.
  12. Managers make locally optimizing decisions that either don’t support or directly conflict with the change.
  13. People still do things the old way, so just in case the new way doesn’t work, they won’t be blamed.
  14. Asking for help is viewed as a weakness, so people struggle alone or give up without the support they need.
  15. Worried they will increase dissatisfaction or fear, leaders don’t transparently communicate why the organization needs to change.
  16. People who built the way it is now are insulted by and protect it from those who want to make it better.
  17. When problems arise with the project, more effort is spent looking for excuses instead of looking for solutions.
  18. Misalignment with policies forces employees to choose between following the rules and implementing the change.
  19. Methods for resource allocation and incentives encourage turf wars instead of collaboration.
  20. Due to outside pressure, getting it done now is considered more important than getting it done right.

Over time, your organization developed mechanisms for keeping everyone in line and for achieving the results it’s getting. Look for the ways your organization keeps things the way they are, and deliberately break those habits in order to enable change. Otherwise, the old way will inadvertently be reinforced and the new way avoided.

Which of these have you seen in your own organization? What would you add to the list?

Four Ways Change is Introduced Into Organizations

Change starts with an idea that something should be different. That idea can come from anyone in the organization. But to affect change, that idea has to get to a point where it can be acted upon.

So what does that drop of water look like that propagates out to the rest of the organization? Here are four ways I’ve seen change introduced into organizations.

ways change is introduced

Lone Wolf

Sometimes an individual just decides to do their own job differently, and the change is in stealth mode for a while.  If they’re lucky, someone sees the results and wants to replicate them within the organization (although they might consider themselves lucky if no one finds out). If they’re unlucky, someone tells them to stop.

Approved

Often change goes through the “appropriate channels” within the organization, gaining approval up the chain of command until it reaches the right level of authority. Both the problem and the solution are brought to someone who can say “yes, let’s do this.” The result then is usually a top-down roll out of the change.

Grass Roots

Grass Roots change is like the Lone Wolf with more socialization. Friends and colleagues share a common problem and decide to come up with a solution at their level in the organization. As more people adopt the new way of doing things, it may force a decision about which way people will work going forward.

Co-Creation

With co-creation, people from all over the organization get together to define the problem and develop the solution together. Instead of the change being designed by one or a few individuals, the group defines and designs the change together.

Which of these have you seen, and what others would you add from your own experience?

Interview: Design Breakthrough Change Communication

In this episode, Dotty Posto, President of Posto Management Consulting, shares how to use creativity to design breakthrough change communication. Listen in to learn how to gain attention in the sea of information in today’s workplace.

Listen to the show here (30 minutes):

Be sure to visit the radio show page to listen to past episodes and subscribe to the show.

Upcoming Webinar: Uncover and Reduce Resistance to Change

Tired of banging your head against the wall when you’re implementing change?

When people push back or react in ways that work against change, it causes frustration for those who are trying to implement it. When we feel that frustration, we label what’s happening as Resistance. However, the outward signs of resistance you experience as a change agent are usually symptoms of an underlying issue.

The common response is to address the symptoms – strengthen the argument, dangle a carrot, or use authority to get them to budge. Yet, if your answer to resistance is to push harder without understanding the real cause, you risk having people dig in their heels even more.

Join me on February 26, 2014 for the second in the 5-part Design & Influence Irresistible Change™ webinar series, and you’ll learn a straightforward approach to anticipating the reaction to change, and gain templates and exercises to help you and your colleagues uncover and reduce resistance.

YesWebinar:
Uncover and Reduce Resistance

February 26, 2014
1:00 – 2:30 pm Eastern

$75

Registration closed

In this webinar, you’ll learn:

  • The common symptoms of resistance
  • Eight underlying sources of resistance and how to spot them
  • The steps to address each source to help people loosen their grip on the status quo.

Along with your participation in this live webinar, you will also receive PDF and MS PowerPoint templates you can use immediately to implement what you’ve learned.

This webinar is the second in the Design & Influence Irresistible Change™ Webinar Series. You can attend this as an individual webinar, or join the series and save! If you missed the first webinar on Define the Change, I’ll send you the recording so you can catch up. Plus, as a bonus, when you sign up for the whole series you will also receive the Irresistible Change Guide™ workbook for just the cost of shipping (a $175 value).

ICwebinarnodate

In this 5-part webinar series, you will learn the steps and gain the tools to both design change in advance so it has the best chance of succeeding and influence change as you go so your initiative can keeping going even when it hits those inevitable bumps along the way.

Winter/Spring 2014 Schedule

Date Topic Price Register
January
29
Define the Change
Clarify what really needs to change in order to achieve the desired results for your organization.
$75 Closed
February
26
Uncover and Reduce Resistance
Anticipate how people will react to change so you can reduce backlash, and handle resistance when it happens.
$75 Closed
March
26
Gain Leadership Support
Navigate the roles and relationships of change to get leaders to help you implement change.
$75
April
23
Design and Communicate Change
Create the structural elements that will drive change and develop a plan to pinpoint communication.
$75
May
21
Sharpen Your Influence
Leverage your personal power and develop the skills to make an impact with both individuals and groups.
$75
FULL SERIES Attend all 5 webinars for a discount, PLUS you get the Irresistible Change Guide™ workbook, an additional $175 value, for just the cost of shipping!
$550
$298

View CartNote: All events start at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Feel free to gather a small group to watch the webinar(s) together. However, each registration for the complete series comes with only one Irresistible Change Guide™ workbook. If you would like to purchase additional workbooks, you may add them to the shopping cart here.

Need to get funding approved to attend this series? Download a brochure here.