Change Is Difficult. 13 Tips To Make Change Easier.

Great entrepreneurs want to change the world. They have a healthy disregard for the current order.

OK, maybe not change the world, but certainly change something about the world.

Changing the way a product is bought, creating a new product, creating a new experience or service - or quite simply just doing something better than it's been done before.

Yet - change is difficult.

Change requires bringing a lot of people with you on that journey.

Fortunately, there are tried and tested ways of making change happen. (Even if you're not the CEO).

One good book to put things in perspective is "Switch", by Chip and Dan Heath

Here are 13 tips taken from the book...

1. Set the destination

Being clear about what the future looks like is essential. If you don't have a clear view of the horizon you're headed for it's difficult to ask the crew to get there. At Forward Partners we've been doing a lot of work recently on pinning down our own vision. More on that in another post.

2. Find the bright spots, then do more

Often there's a spark of brilliance amongst the noise; a key customer, an amazing method, a strong message or a star hire. If you can identify how that spark started, do more. Find more brilliance by repeating what works.

3. Direct the script, but keep it simple

Pulling a team together around a challenge requires that they have a script to follow - a set of instructions. The simpler you can make that script the better. For example, give one or two main principles and let them understand that this is what matters most. Often large changes can be yielded by simple instructions.

4. Shape the path, environment matters

The current tools and habits of your team or your customers are the environment in which your change needs to happen. If you can channel into that environment and change from within instead of trying to take people down completely new path, there's a greater chance of success. For example, getting people to login to a new platform instead of accessing your information from an existing one is always harder.

5. Break habits to catalyse change

Often the major changes in our own lives are prompted by some specific event. In 2008, the fall of Lehman Brothers caused people to adjust their attitudes to spending, almost overnight. We are creatures of habit and we are jump started into change by changes by big events. At work, a desk move, a change of manager, a change to a pricing model - these things can all be disruptive in a way to cause change.

5. Big problems don't need big solutions, small solutions can solve big problems

One of my favourites. Often people obsess about the details in solving a complicated problem.

A great example was a TV show I saw about the CEO of Phones4u who found his shop managers were being ineffective because of 20 emails an hour from head office. The problem he wanted to fix was improved customer service and sales performance in his shops. He solved it by switching off the email servers for the entire company for a week.

People found a way to communicate more effectively and the shop managers were able to thrive. What's more, the behaviours stayed in place long after email service was resumed. He said something like this... 'Sometimes when you need to fix a dent you just need a sledgehammer. It's a blunt tool, but it removes the dent"

6. Chunk it and keep the horizon near; small steps are easier than big ones

A big challenge is daunting. Break it into simple steps and just focus people on getting to the first step. Then, regroup and think about step two.

7. Develop you and your team to be able to make bigger steps

As you observe you the team handle challenges, work on developing them to take on bigger challenges. This might be through partnering with a more experienced person, building repeatable processes or testing people beyond their comfort zone. The aim is to have a stronger team at each step of the journey.

8. Identity is the strongest motivational lever there is. Behaviour is driven by identity and environment.

A crucial point. If people can identify with what you are trying to achieve they will run with you harder, faster and longer than you'd ever imagine possible. How people see themselves and their meaning and purpose in this world is the biggest incentive of all.

9. Culture is just collective behaviour

Drawing on point 8 above, if behaviour is a product of identity and environment, then if you want to change culture (which is just collective behaviour), focus on environment and identity.

10. Use social proof when you can to influence culture

Social proof is the opinion of others. User reviews are an example of social proof. Testimonials are an example of social proof. By citing that "other people are doing this", you can create a mass movement. It's the power of crowds.

11. Change the culture and anything is possible

This final point sums it all up. Have a strong vision, build a team with a strong identity in an environment which helps it to thrive and anything can happen

I'm interested in any real stories you have on when you had to change something and how you did it....

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