A new process or program can only succeed when employees clearly recognize, accept, and believe in, the need to change from an existing, adequate program or process to a new one.
Often, employees do not recognize a need for change or the evolution in the business world, surrounding the company, that will jeopardize its very survival and the jobs of employees as well. As a leader, you must help the employees recognize the problem that lies ahead. More than that, you have to reshape their beliefs to weaken their conviction that the same-old process or programs are sufficient and resilient enough to face future obstacles. You must help them to reshape their sacred cows to create the void required that can be filled with a new process or program.
I can’t state this more clearly: employees must recognize, and most important of all, BELIEVE a void exists or is developing that needs to be filled.
One of the many ways to explain the need for the new process or program is to identify the chasm that must be crossed and to present a strong case for “crossing the chasm” See End Note 1 . You must help the employees see the dangers that is ahead. To do that you must overcome the hurdle of opinions and beliefs. And that, in turn, requires plenty of facts. Opinions and beliefs can only be changed when confronted with facts that obsolete them. Plenty of facts.
To those who hold those opinions, beliefs, (sacred cows), it will matter little that an executive or an academic or any other expert is making the presentation. Employees will be looking for the experience factor…they want to know:
- which companies have already faced this and, of those, which failed and survived?
- for those which made the leap, what degree of benefit did they enjoy?
- how did they do it, specifically…company by company… their specific techniques?
- how hard was it for the employees to implement the change, ie., what was involved at the employee level?
FACTS and REAL-LIFE CASES are what will matter most. Not so much who is presenting.
EXAMPLES rock. Despite filling your presentation with many examples of companies which faced a similar chasm, employees’ minds will be preoccupied with wondering how difficult a change it will be for them to adjust and what benefit awaits for them. The sole objective of this type of presentation is to convince the employee population that the secret to future success for both the company and each employee is to copy the success of other companies by adopting your new, strategy, process and program. And, if they do, they want to understand the better state that is waiting for those who make the adjustments and do adopt the change.
Facts, especially examples, will sell your cause, not personalities. It’s about the what and how. Identify the CHASM and demonstrate how companies have crossed it.
- The term, “Crossing the Chasm” was popularized among executives, a few years ago, by Geoffrey A Moore who wrote a number of excellent texts about how to mainstream technological innovations. If you have not yet read his works, this would make an excellent introduction: Crossing The Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers. Aug. 2002