One of the main reasons users resist change is that they feel it is being imposed on them. This increases if you plan your change in secret and present it to users after finalising all key decisions about the future. Users are a vital part of the future, so I can understand why they resist this approach. Can’t you?
A good way to minimise this resistance is to invite users to help designing aspects of your change. Involve users in decision making about what the future will look like, and how it will be implemented. People will feel more in control of the change, and their buy-in and support will be increased. Also, users have loads of knowledge about their jobs and ideas about how to make improvements. This means you will probably end up with a better future and realise far more benefits from the change.
Users cannot be included in all decisions about change. Senior leaders are responsible for setting strategic direction, for example. Often, futures are confined by legal or contractual constraints. However, when you come to plan the details of the future, users can normally influence at least a few things.
You need to be very clear to set expectations about what users can decide. Make sure you explain clearly what is not up for negotiation, and why. This will minimise misunderstandings and help to focus people’s energy where they can really make a difference.
To give you some ideas, the table below shows how users were involved in a technology change. At a high level, there were lots of constraints about the future due to the company and technology strategies. However, below those constraints, there were enough decisions for users to be involved in for them to feel ownership and buy in for the change.
What do I do next?
Have a look at your change, and see where you can involve users in decision making. Challenge yourself and your change leaders – it may feel uncomfortable to open up decisions to a wider debate. However, by involving users in this way, interest, buy-in and ownership of your change can be significantly increased. You will find that resistance will decrease and successful change will move one step closer!
Has this been useful?
I have taken this blog post from my book The Shape of Change. The book contains lots more practical ideas to help make change successful.
You can buy The Shape of Change directly from Routledge. Add the code FLR40 at the checkout for a 20% discount. This makes it cheaper than buying from Amazon!