A how-to guide for getting people excited about your change

Jeff Cole

happy employees

Let’s say you work in a small medical practice, just attended a Lean workshop and are excited about it.  You can see where your organization could benefit from this and would like to get others at your office excited too.   How might you go about this?

First, assume your co-worker’s Excitement-O-Meter is neutral at best. They didn’t attend the workshop with you, and you just sharing a book or some handouts with someone has little chance of working. They are busy and your topic is just one of another 78 or so things competing for their attention. You can leverage a few concepts in your favor to possibly have your topic rise to the top and grab their attention.

    • A-I-D-A: Marketing gurus for years have known that in selling something from an idea to soda, to cars, people go through these phases:  Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.  You can’t count on people naturally taking themselves through this cycle – you must escort them.

    • Creating Awareness: You can make co-workers aware of your topic in many ways – a lunch and learn, water-cooler talk, staff meeting presentations, etc. Once you have created awareness, your topic is on the radar, but it is at rest.   It will stay at rest until you move it along. Your presentation is a long way from being done.

    • Moving to Interest: At a base level, people either seek pleasure or avoid pain.  Interest comes from seeing how this topic specifically applies to them.

      • WIIFM – What’s in it for me – is where you show how your topic, in a tangible and achievable way would benefit them.  

      • Burning Platform – the bad things that happen if you don’t act now -  is possibly even more motivating and is where you paint a specific picture of the pains that will continue or start if we don’t implement what you learned at your workshop.  

      • Your coworkers need to see at this point that the pain of not implementing  Lean is greater than the pain of implementing.  At this point they understand what you saw at your workshop and can clearly see how it will benefit them by relieving a pain point or providing something they value.

    • Generating Desire: People often make purchase decisions based on emotion and justify it with logic. To move people to desire, appealing to the emotional benefits often are more powerful than laying out the logical benefits.   Think of the collateral benefits of applying what you saw at your workshop (morale, better teamwork/friendships, more time with family vs. working overtime to redo defective work, etc.)  Consider a short case study or story with pictures (vs. a PowerPoint slide with bullets), or a simple hands-on exercise that proves a point. Fun is an emotion – so is boredom – aim for a fun, upbeat experience. For every logical reason to implement, aim for 3-10 emotional reasons.

    • On to Action: Lastly, make Action very easy.  Don’t just present and say – “I just wanted to share” or “Anyway – now you know about it – I thought it was exciting”. Ask for the sale – ask for action – and make the first actions needed either already done or very simple to do.  Ex: “I already made up waste identification forms -  we can do our first waste-walk this afternoon” or “let’s pick an area right now for 5S -  I have the red tags and with some volunteers we can do our first one this week.”….  

    • Advanced Techniques:  Those general tips will take you a lot farther than just passing a book around and hoping people will get excited and do what’s right. Here are a couple advanced tips as well:

      • Stealth Implementation: Nothing creates excitement like success. In some situations it may be possible to implement part of what you learned on your own without telling anyone. Hearing the concept is one thing – see how it helped others like you is better – seeing how it actually worked in your office is even better – it makes it feel (emotions!) real and attainable.

      • Shotgun or Laser:  With some groups it may be better to present to the whole organization (shotgun approach).  Some may hate it, some love it, and the rest in the middle. You leverage those who love it and build momentum from there. In other places, a laser approach is better – zero in on one or a couple people who are opinion leaders or decision makers, or those who will be advocates for your suggestions. These would be more one on one discussions than group presentations.

      • Avoid the Red Stapler: In the movie “Office Space” one poor worker had so many changes shoved his way that he hugged his special red stapler and wouldn’t let anyone take it from him. Until they know better – some co-workers may be suspicious or even negative toward you presenting what you saw in a workshop – they’ll see it as “more work for me” or “I don’t need another change or committee”. Put them at ease – position any actions as an “experiment” not a “change”.  Tee up proposed actions that will provide fast , visible, and quantifiable  positive results.    

There you have it and I hope that helps you to better share your improvement ideas.  Now if you’ll excuse me, my wife has been successful in boosting my Excitement-O-Meter to the “Act Now” level in cleaning out our garage. Happy change!