The problem: Silence is not 'buy-in'
Key change questions
Two of the questions most frequently heard when talking to leaders about their plans for change are:
• How can we get buy-in?
• How do we deal with the resistance to change?
They reflect assumptions about people and change so embedded as to be endemic.
Assumptions about people and change
These assumptions are that ‘people don’t like change’, and, that people can be ‘sold’ change.
It is true that, on the whole, people aren’t widely enthusiastic about change that is forced upon them without consultation that appears to make their life or working conditions worse. It is also true that people will buy the idea that if they point out the problems that the proposed change will cause, they will be labeled as a troublemaker or worse. Given this, they may stop saying anything. This compliance is often confused with ‘buy-in’.
An alternative approach
Co-creation change processes offer an alternative. By working closely, from the beginning, with those who will be affected by any proposed change, these questions become irrelevant. A number of additional benefits accrue.
Benefits of the Co-creation approach to change
1) Tapping into Collective Intelligence
Participative co-creation taps into the collective intelligence of the organisation at the point where it’s application can have the most effective impact at the least cost - at the very beginning. Involved early, before irreversible decisions are made, people can draw on their wealth of localised knowledge about what works and what doesn’t while the challenge is still being formulated and considered. They can also road-check solution ideas for feasibility before they have become invested with the weight of being the right and only answer.
Utilising the organisation’s collective intelligence leads to better solutions arrived at in a cost effective manner.
2) Creating Active Participation
When people are involved in the definition of the problem or challenge and the design of the solution, they start to make changes in their behaviour immediately. In addition, once formal plans are issued, or projects started, they already understand why and don’t need to be persuaded of, or sold on, the rightness of the action. Co-creation approaches to change lead to faster implementation.
Encouraging active participation in design leads to faster solution implementation.
3) Direct Involvement in Decision-making
When people have direct involvement in decision-making, they are much more likely to accept the outcome. As long as their views have been genuinely appreciated and considered they are likely to accept the evolving nature of the solution. People can track their particular contributions as the answer evolves. Such involvement inspires a sense of ownership of, and commitment to, the final design. Co-creation leads to a high level of commitment.
Facilitating direct involvement in decisions creates a high level of commitment.
4) Building Social Capital
People who have worked together in a positive way on something that is important to them form stronger social bonds. Collectively the strength of these internal relationships is known as the social capital of the organisation. High social capital means a high level of trust across the organisation; good information-sharing and easy information flow. It also facilitates problem-solving at the level of the problem. Investment in social capital helps to ameliorate the well known problems of silo-mentality. Co-creation facilitates low level, quick and effective, peer-to-peer problem-solving, vital when new, unfamiliar systems are being implemented.
Increasing social capital leads to coherent, co-ordinated action
5) Leverage Strengths
Co-creation processes that focus on identifying existing strengths and core values as part of the change process help people link the need for change with success and personal integrity. They also create positive emotion that is energy for the change. Aligning the future with the past along the lines of what is best about the current organisation makes it more likely that people will feel hopeful and optimistic about the change and the future. Co-creation based on existing strengths and clear values is likely to be implemented with hope and enthusiasm, leading to a smoother implementation process
Leveraging strengths and values leads to hope and optimism
How can you implement change like this?
There now exists an abundance of co-creation change processes that help organisations avoid triggering resistance and all the costs and delays incurred with that. They require organisations to demonstrate a different style of leadership, one that is predicated on an understanding that an organisation is a social system, with leadership a privileged position within that system. The role of the leader then becomes to find ways to help the organisation continually evolve towards a better future. To do that the leader needs to call on and release the collective intelligence and capability of the whole organisation.
More on these and related topics can be found in Sarah’s book Positive Psychology at Work.
See more articles from the Knowledge Warehouse on this topic here.
APPRECIATING CHANGE CAN HELP
Appreciating Change is skilled and experienced at supporting leaders in working in this challenging, exciting and productive way with their organizations. Find out more by looking at Our Approach to change.
For further information on these alternative approaches to change, please contact us or phone 07973 782 715