Make the effort grassroots: organizational change done right

By William Seidman Mike McCauley and I were guest columnists for the Portland Business Journal on Oct. 1. We contributed “Grassroots approach can speed up organizational change,” and outlined a simple four-step process that makes it easy to implement and sustain change in any workplace. Why does it take so long to make a real and lasting performance changes? We see, over and over, that one thing is missing: motivation. You can’t expect people to adopt new attitudes, behaviors, and methods if they aren’t motivated to want to change. But how to do that? Set the bar: Use your organization’s top-performing employees — the people we call your positive deviants —  to define the desired attitude and behavior. These are your stars and you can use them to influence the rest of the team.  When you do this, you create something that is very powerful: the spark for the change comes from within the organization. It feels grassroots because it is grassroots. Motivate change: Present the image of the end result in a way that inspires team members to enthusiastically adopt the new attitudes and business processes. Sustain change: Guide the organization to practice the new attitudes and behaviors enough that they are completely internalized.  Sustainability has historically been very difficult; it’s human nature to revert to the old, comfortable behaviors.  Your old worn-out shoe is usually more comfortable than your brand-new one. For this reason we work hard through the difficulties that may arise to help organizations sustain the change. Scale change: The goal of organizational change is to implement change for the whole group. We use persuasive technology to scale change and ensure its success for the group.]]>

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