“Without involvement, there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it, underline it. No involvement, no commitment.” Dr Stephen Covey.
Article by Mark Gregory:
Over the years I have been involved in many change programmes both on the receiving end of the change and leading it. When on the receiving end, more often than not, these programmes never quite felt right to me. When leading them I often found it difficult, initially, to convince others of the need for change and the benefits of the change. I also found whilst the change was often understood at an intellectual level, it wasn’t always carried out as intended.
In Approaches to Change – 2, I explored the logic of change versus the emotion of change. I also spoke about the data and the imagery used in change, and the need for the emotional connection. While in my experience these elements all play a key role, they are not the whole answer to the ‘hearts and minds conundrum’. Another major element is the idea you have to be involved in the development of change to emotionally connect.
What Your Reaction Means
As Covey says, ‘no involvement means no commitment’. Have you presented something that you have put time, energy and effort into, which you felt was a solution to a problem, but the audience disagreed? How did you feel when it was challenged? What were your reactions? Were they ones of logic or emotion? My guess is, you had a desire to protect your ideas, quite simply because you built them. In my experience, people protect what they build. Or, put another way, the more involvement the more commitment we find we have (that is of course on the basic assumption the output is aligned with our way of thinking in the first place).
So if we buy into the principle, no involvement, generally means no commitment and people protect what they build, the question is not one of ‘should or should I not involve people?’ but ‘how do I involve people?’
Involving The Right People
Ask yourself the question, ‘why do you not involve people today?’ The answers, I am sure, are many and varied, ranging from, ‘this is not a democracy, we can’t all have a vote on everything’ to ‘we all have a job to do and we are experts, so we decide’. The reality of it is, the level of involvement from other people probably all comes down to time and effort. Does the scale of the change justify the time and effort required to generate the involvement and commitment? Remember the question here is not ‘is the solution or the change the right one?’ but ‘will those responsible for the sustainment of the new order live it as if it were their own?’
Only those charged with the change responsibility will be able to understand the full extent of the involvement opportunities and how they could possibly be weaved into the change journey. There are a few stages to consider:
- Concept stage: How can I involve people in the conceptual thinking? Top tip, resist the urge to only present the finished ideas, that’s the point!
- Design stage: How can I involve people in designing the solution? Top tip, involve those most affected by the change.
- Implementation stage: How can I involve the change receivers? Top tip, the more the merrier, wildfire spreads quicker than an inferno. Leave room for improvement.
- Sustainment stage: How can I involve people in the refinement of sustainment? Top tip, As exponents of the virtues of a lean philosophy we could not pass the opportunity for a bit of Plan, Do, Check, Act.
The Real Question
Having said all this, it only really comes down to one question – ‘How much effort am I prepared to put into the involvement for the commitment proposition?’ That depends on how much you want the change to be sustained. My experience dictates that – sustainment is a function of involvement.
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