By William Seidman Have you ever noticed how hard it can be to get someone to put in the time and effort required to learn something new? We’re working with the management team of a big company on a major initiative.  Everyone agrees that change is vitally important, but we keep having the same conversation. We pose these questions; the answer to each is almost always “Yes.” Is this initiative critical for the success of the company? Are the positive deviants the best people to tell us how to achieve the desired results?   Are the people we worked with in the Wisdom Discovery the best? Are the best practices they generated correct, accurate and persuasive? Should all of your people be able to do these best practices? Do you think it will take time and practice to become good at these best practices?  and, finally, the stickier question: Are you willing to allocate 1-2 hours per week to become good at these best practices? And at this there is hesitation; they know they should say “yes” but they really don’t want to say yes —  so they say either “maybe” or “no.” This is the nub of leadership. Everything aligns except the willingness to allocate the time to get good at something.  I often follow this set of question with another set: Would you expect someone who aspires to be a world class athlete to practice at least 1-2 hours a week? Would you expect someone who aspires to be a world class musician to practice at least 1-2 hours a week? Would you expect someone who aspires to be a world class (whatever is the focus of the performance improvement) to practice at least 1-2 hours a week? Again, the hesitation and again “maybe” or “no.” This response is described in Stanford professors Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert Sutton’s work The Knowing-Doing Gap: How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge Into Action and in Alan Deutschman’s Change Or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life.  People really know what they should do but they don’t do it. Why? As far as I can tell, people are so attached to safe daily activity that the they refuse to change, to step out of their comfort zone and, certainly, to take risks. It’s hard to get people to change.]]>

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