“How do you persuade people to disrupt their lives? You have to explain … not once or twice but three or four times … you have to convince them of the paradoxical fact that, disruptive as the gadget is, it’s not all that hard to use.” (1). Logical and desceptively difficult. What is brilliant in this story is the effectiveness – Gladwell is talking about is the sales pitch for the “Chop-O-Matic”.
Not relevant to business change? But wait this is a business that has very effectively developed and sold new products for generations. By Gladwell’s description the pitch is a highly structured communication (designed and road tested from invitation to ‘turn’ to ‘countdown’) to lead the audience from apathy to curiosity, not just to consumers but often to zealots.
There is much in this story that applies to communicating change in every organization – that applies to almost every change that we ask users to adopt whether it is a new system, say imaging records and all the benefits that come from that, or learning a software, say ERP, or even a new role. Yet, the rigor and discipline that has gone into the Chop-O-Matic pitch exceeds the communications that many organizations apply to much larger, riskier projects.
The key is to recognize the true short falls and costs of compliance-based change implementation (i.e. ‘we’ll tell them and they’ll do it) vs a proactive, customized and structured People Change Management track that expands on the relevant Chop-O-Matic protocols. Imagine if users would adopt the new ‘gadget’ with the same effectiveness as the audience buys the Chop-O-Matic.
Of course the ‘pitch’ is just one example of an effective communication format – and communication is just one component. After getting the audience to see and understand it, getting them to use it, regularly and properly, is the next challenge for most change programs – all the more reason to apply the same rigor throughout an integrated end-to-end approach.
(1) “What the Dog Saw”, Macolm Gladwell, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2009.