In my previous blog “Gaining Buy-In for Your Culture Change” I used a smooth bell curve to illustrate how leaders can systematically convert employees from Adversaries and Defectors, to Neutral and Supporters, and ultimately to Ambassadors. Specifically, I wrote about how each group can be engaged and enrolled in the process of organizational change.
But is the process of gaining buy-in really a smooth progression from one group to the next? Is it possible that a promising start with Ambassadors can lose momentum if the majority fail to follow?
According to Geoffrey Moore’s book Crossing the Chasm, Early Adopters (your Ambassadors) and Early Majority (your Supporters) are two very different groups of people, with a veritable chasm between them. You cannot use the same strategy to engage these two groups and expect the same results.
When presented with a new idea or a vision for change, Ambassadors will quickly get involved. They will be among the first to pilot new change projects. They are willing to take risks and pursue high goals for the organization.
But success with your enthusiastic Ambassadors does not mean that your pragmatic Supporters will follow. And it is these Early Majority Supporters who determine if your change efforts stall, or spreads successfully throughout the organization.
Supporters are not the same as Ambassadors. Ambassadors leap at the chance to change. But Supporters are pragmatic and seek more “proof of concept” before they step – not leap – into action. So you need a different strategy to engage your Supporters, gain the buy-in of this vital Early Majority, and successfully cross the chasm.
Step One: Generate Quick Wins to Inspire Confidence
First, enable and empower your Ambassadors to create Quick Wins. Quick Wins are like adrenaline for your change efforts. They boost morale, disarm critics, and build essential program momentum. Nothing motivates Supporters more than seeing real success.
- Quick Wins are Fast: They can be implemented within a few weeks with results that appear quickly.
- Quick Wins are Low Cost: They do not require large investments in people, equipment, budget or technology.
- Quick Wins are Low Risk: They leave little room for failure. Each of these early “small wins” is enough to help motivate your workforce.
- Quick Wins are Within the Team’s Control: They are within the team’s ability to influence and make the change. If others outside the immediate team are needed, their support can be easily secured.
- Quick Wins Contribute Real Value: They lead to improvements that are visible to, and valued by, your Supporters.
Step Two: Promote Quick Wins with Stories of Success
To inspire confidence with Early Majority Supporters, and more widely in the organization, make your Quick Wins highly visible. You can do this with clear Stories of Success to publicize, promote, and praise your Quick Wins. This will encourage Supporters and continue the process of converting your skeptics.
- Sharing Stories of Success are especially helpful in the early stages of culture-change. Stories generate more emotional connection than facts-oriented information.
- Stories of Success Set the Stage: They provide context for service situation and the need for improvement.
- Stories of Success Highlight Pain Points: Highlight the emotional impact of the problem. Describe the pain of the current situation. Alleviating this pain is the reason for service innovations and improvements.
- Stories of Success Detail the Quest: The Quest is those new ideas and action steps taken by members of your team. The Quest also explains difficulties and challenges encountered along the way.
- Stories of Success Explain the Victory: Paint a vivid picture of the new reality that soothes the pain and creates a better current situation. Share the positive emotional impact on customers and colleagues.
- Stories of Success Share Learning Points: Highlight both planned and surprising outcomes of the change. Capture insights from the experience and share this with your team.
Quick Wins and Stories of Success are the right place to start, but they are just the beginning to achieve long-term culture change and service improvement goals. To maintain momentum you must build an even stronger foundation for continuous service improvement.
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