Sunday, March 17, 2013

My #2 Change Management Principle



Through decades of experience with team members across the globe, and by poring over hundreds of research articles, I have developed a few key principles for managing change.

My #2 Change Management Principle:  Simplify to increase adoption


I shall never forget a meeting I participated in a while back, when I was promoted into a sales role.  We were greeted by several cheerful VPs on Monday morning around 8AM.  They explained that we would be receiving 'training'.  What followed is nothing short of amazing.

From 8AM to 5 (sometimes 6) PM everyday, we were subjected to a tag team line-up of the finest PowerPoint jockeys in the world, talking about every product, process and service we could sell.

At Friday night of that week, you could have looked me in the eye and asked "what did you learn?" and if I was honest I would have said "there's a lot of stuff to learn."  I was exhausted, and probably not much smarter, but a whole lot wiser from the experience.

HINT: A key leader in the training world likes to say "TELLING AIN'T TRAINING". 

I have witnessed (and I'm sure you have too) events like the one I described.  These events are developed by well-intended, efficiency-minded individuals ... who never sat through a session like that.

Learning Theory tells us something different. 
Distributed practice is the key to retention. 

What's that mean? 
  1. Research shows that smaller intense bursts of training/learning are superior to long, exhausting sessions that drain the mind rather than fill it.
  2. "Massed practice" is the opposite (but the approach used quite often in corporations).  See above.
  3. It means simplify to increase adoption.
Implications?  When we're managing change, we need to provide people with enough knowledge to become competent without overwhelming them.  And in an age of online learning, Distributed Practice is eminently possible with any audience.  In fact, give them smaller bytes and they will love you for it.

What else do we need to do to simplify? 

In any change, people can drown in a tidal wave of information.  They will become fearful that they cannot absorb everything they need to know, and very often, they will become exhausted.  Smaller, more compact and clear segments in shorter bursts will help adoption rates.

Change is not easy.  Complex change is hard, but offering people systematic segments of carefully planned learning is a key element of making the new change a part of your organization.

Simplify ... to increase ... adoption.



+Harold Stolovitch is the author of  "Telling Ain't Training."


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