Ray Collis

How Well Are You Selling Change?

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Getting People To Change

Organizations invest millions in new initiatives, leadership, coaching and just about everything else in the hope that people will change.

That is in spite of what is often a deep-rooted cynicism about the ability of people to change – a cynicism borne out of many past disappointments.

After all who has not had his or her own personal experience of broken promises, lapsed commitments and unrealized goals?

We may justify our failure to change with a variety of excuses:

– I don’t have enough time – I’m too busy! – It is not working out as planned!

– I don’t have the tools or resources required!

– The goals set were unrealistic! ‘

– There are other people in the way! But predictable excuses aside why is change so difficult to make?


Technical Versus Adaptive Change

To better understand why change initiatives fail, Kegan and Laskow-Lahey make the distinction between adaptive and technical challenges relating to change.

For example we all know that providing people with additional information, new skills or even new tools – the technical solution – is often not enough to change behavior.  That is because the key gap is often not a technical, but rather an adaptive one.

How much of the challenge faced by your customer is technical, rather than adaptive?

In short knowing what to do is not enough.  Adapting mind-sets and behaviours goes deeper than acquiring new knowledge or skill. Training, although important, is only so effective as an agent of change.

This has important implications for the sellers of so many products and solutions and in particular the role and format of customer and user training.

Do you over-rely on customer training in getting customers using your solution?

If how your customers actually use, or derive benefit from your solution (once sold) matters, then enabling users to change their behaviors is key.  As we will see next that requires identifying the customer’s competing commitments.

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