The WORK THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’t do
People are given a project at work. They think about what needs to happen to get to the goal and begin.
They schedule meetings with various people assuming that everyone will participate in a way that contributes productively, and that all oars will pull in the same direction.
But Corporate Conformists have their own agenda.
Let's take a look at what can help you move things faster, by focusing on the work that most people ignore.
The work before the race
I want to use an analogy of a horse race.
A horse race begins with all the horses lined up in something called a starting stall.
But there is a problem. Horses hate the starting stall. They get anxious being confined to a space that is just shy of how big they are.
But the horses need to be in the stall before you can start the race.
How is it done?
There are handlers of the horses: the starting stall crew. These folks take the time to understand each horse’s perspective and patterns of behavior.
Rather than forcing a skittish horse into something that can be scary, they introduce the horse to the gate before the race.
The point is so the horse can experience it to see that it is harmless for themselves.
A crew member will walk the horse through with no barriers, and the next time will pause inside the gate, allowing the horse to understand that it is nothing to fear. He works with the horse to eliminate the unexpected.
It is through this patient process that most horses will voluntarily enter the starting stall on their own.
Once in the starting stall, the race is ready to begin.
In a dysfunctional system, you are not a member of the starting stall crew—you ARE the starting stall crew
We expect people to “get it” without realizing that there is a lot of mental preparation that we need to do to get our stakeholders in the right frame of mind—just like the horses—before that project has a chance to move forward.
Your real work is getting the horse into the starting stall
Your project is the race
Go-getters like you discreetly lay a foundation for behavior change with internal stakeholders just like a starting stall crew.
Rather than use a harness with a racing bit to get a horse into the gate, Go-getters use the notion of uncertainty to prompt the stakeholders to walk in themselves.
People don’t like uncertainty. They like the expected.
As it stands, your project IS the uncertainty if you don’t do the work that most people don’t do. The status quo is comfortable for Corporate Conformists.
You need to flip that on its head and make them uncomfortable. You need to make the status quo uncertain. You need to make it feel unsafe.
There are two levels of uncertainty:
You need to make a person feel uncertain in their Corporate Conformist group, but also as an individual. Right now, let’s focus on group uncertainty. (I focus on individual uncertainty based on Hardwiring in another article.)
You can’t just create the feelings of uncertainty with one stakeholder. You must create it with the entire internal stakeholder chain.
Conformists talk to each other and share emotions
Therefore, the crisis of uncertainty must be seeded with all stakeholders at the same time. When they talk to each other, they reinforce the idea that there is uncertainty and that something needs to be done. Now.
Groupthink is your friend. You want them to adopt the crisis points on their own, fanning the flame of uncertainty, and lighting the fire with others.
If Corporate Conformists aren’t troubled by the current business behaviors creating this uncertainty and the need for a purposeful solution, then your project will never be a priority.
Your group uncertainty headlines might sound like this:
We are behind the curve
Our competitors are crushing us
We are paying too much
It takes us twice as long
We are exposed
The business community is talking badly about us
Uncertainty about how the status quo reflects on the group’s reputation, time, resources, or morale in a negative way is the trigger for behavior change.
As people chit-chat, they use the same exact bullets you give them to efficiently demonstrate that they are in the know on the problem.
Stay on message and let that headline buzz around the conversation at the water cooler.
People change their behavior to avoid the feelings associated with uncertainty. They willingly walk into the starting stall. They want change to happen.
That is when they are ready to hear about your ideas. They are ready to grab onto solutions to escape these uncomfortable feelings.
That solution is your project.
Now, only some of the stakeholders will walk into that starting stall with just the group uncertainty. Other’s require an extra push. That is covered in another article.
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