This past week NeuraFlash lit up Saratoga, NY for our semi-annual offsite. It was an energizing event where our leaders and teammates shared ideas, insights, and initiatives to drive our customers to greater success. An essential element to all of this was Change Management!
During the session on change management, we opened with an exercise. NeuraFlash teammates were challenged to see how many times they could write the word “change” in 15 seconds. There were comparisons of techniques, strategizing, and some just jumped in and relied on good ‘ole habit. The entire room stood up when I asked how many people wrote the word 3 or more times. That number gradually dwindled until we got to our high number - 14 (try it yourself and see how many you get). This rapid writer earned a prize - a gift card to the NeuraFlash company store so that they could represent NeuraFlash in style.
In the next round, we repeated the activity with one small caveat - each person had to use their opposite hand! There were giggles, groans, and a general look of dismay. As the NeuraFlash team began writing, the discomfort was palpable and the distinction was glaringly obvious. When it was all said and done, teammates compared their first attempt to their second attempt and what do you suppose they found? Writing with their opposite hand had a lower output, looked less clear, and definitely showed a lack of confidence and comfort. No one received any prize for their output.
We then asked teammates to attempt this a third time and this time they could choose their hand. Unsurprisingly, when I asked those who went back to their strong hands to stand, nearly 90% of the company did so. So what did this exercise teach us about setting our customers up for success? This exercise taught us three main lessons to better support our customers.
Change can be uncomfortable
Whenever we lead a solution implementation, we are asking customers to write with their “off-hand.” These customers may have built habits formed over many years and we will need to help customers build new habits, gain comfort and confidence, and guide the customer throughout the journey . We also have to recognize that systems and structures may have been put in place to condition and reward customers for output under the previous system. Processes and performance may need to change to help align with the behavior change.
Resistance to change is natural
Without encouragement, reinforcement, and incentives, many people may avoid the change or revert back to their old habits. Taking a holistic view of the change from the beginning to beyond go-live and actively planning for resistance can help lead to faster change. 90% of the company went back to their strong hand - and of course, they had no tangible motivation to use their “off-hand.” Companies need to overestimate the resistance that they may face and proactively plan for motivating, guiding, and supporting people who are impacted by the change.
The 10% of the company that went to their “off-hand” in the third round shared that they did so because they wanted to try to get better. Too often, organizations focus on temporary performance dips, rather than celebrating growth and its broader journey towards long-term impact. Too often, we miss the greenshoots and do not recognize those champions who are adopting and adapting early. These champions are vital in driving others to change.
Our entire company felt the discomfort of being asked to do something out of their routine. We felt that urge to revert back to their old habits (and many did). We also recognized that in order to better serve our customers, we need to really focus on the people who are undergoing the change and take a holistic view of the supporting technology, processes, and structures in place to drive the change.
If you are interested in learning more about how our Change Management practice can help your business, contact us today!